There have been a lot of long, turgid blog posts about how to solve the journalism crisis. Most of them have been seasoned with a lot of wishful thinking. But this guy makes a lot of sense, and his essay, which is making the rounds this morning courtesy of industry watercooler Romenesko, has lots of local resonance.
Sad to say for the Strib's much-maligned NewsBreak television thing, there's no future for it in the brave new world of Web 3.0:
Newspaper industry pipedreams. Most of the ideas clustered around newspaper boardrooms and industry think-tanks today are unlikely to succeed in the existing environment. "Premium" classified ads, customized papers, multimedia ads, e-editions, user-generated content, Web-based "TV" stations, bundling newspaper subscriptions into cable TV packages, etc. They'll fail for the same reason companies favor them: They re-iterate the "we-control-everything" status quo. And yes, that would apply to Dan Gillmor's "news cartel" idea, too (I say this sadly, as I've been a Gillmor fan for years). We're not adjusting. We're rebooting.
There's also a mention of the BrauBlog microsponsorship experiment over at MinnPost:
Sponsorships and micro-sponsorships. Remember the days when attorneys couldn't advertise so lawyers used to "sponsor" symphony orchestras to get their names mentioned in concert programs? Sponsorship-based advertising offers some sustainability advantages over traditional CPM/CPC ads and lets content producers spend more time producing than selling. Micro-sponsorship (asking users for some level of annual or monthly support, with or without some tangible benefit) is another interesting revenue source.
But the part that blew me away, and which to my eyes is dead-on accurate and wise to the underlying economics of the business, was this prediction for what the industry will look like in the not-so-distant future:
Information products. A set of documents with analog descriptions of locations has no additional value. A dataset of every GPS coordinate, coded for relevance and subject, from every news "story" you produce in a year is immensely valuable for multiple purposes. My prediction? News organizations will give away their human-readable documents and sell their datasets, either directly to developers and researchers, or indirectly via their own informational products. Want to see an overlay with all the information related to a neighborhood before you buy a house? Will that be Visa or PayPal?