The Future of Journalism- Survey: Just five percent willing to pay for online news

As a journalism major, we get into many discussion about the future of the industry. Everyday, we see newspapers going out of business, laying off people, and raising paper prices. News has gone digital and free (like how I found this article on the Yahoo!’s front page). So for us inspiring journalists, we ask ourselves: is there a future for us?

There are a lot of ways to interpret the results of this poll. The way people look at the media, how information is valued nowadays, the effects of the economic crisis on our spending habits, general apathy within out society, etc.

One thing we know for sure is people don’t want to pay for mainstream news, especially if it’s easily accessible for free on other sites. What those of us who work/ will be working in the media have to ask ourselves is: do we blame society for willing to spend money on mainstream news or is it up to us to become more creative and improve the way we present the news?

There will always be a need for information as long as we have a society that wants to know what’s going on in the world. We just have to adapt that idea to our world. We also need to help each other finds ways to make this a living, since we live in a capitalistic world.

See what happens when every aspect of our lives is driven by economic exploitation and profit?

Ben Patterson: The Gadget Hound

Bad news for free online news sites thinking of charging for their content: according to a recent survey, the vast majority of readers would rather find another free site or simply scan the headlines rather than pony up for a paid subscription.

The harsh news comes from PaidContent:UK and Harris Interactive, which polled nearly 1,200 readers in the UK to see how they’d react to the idea of paying for online news that they’re used to accessing for free. The reaction? Not good.

According to the scientific survey, a mere five percent of users would consider paying for their “favorite” news site if it began charging for access, PaidContent:UK (which just so happens to be a free news site) reports.

Nearly 75 percent of the respondents said they’d turn tail and head for a competing free site, while eight percent would keep reading the free headlines. A final 12 percent was “not sure” what they’d do.

Interestingly enough, younger readers in the 16-to-24 age group are among the most willing to pay for online news, although the figures still aren’t that encouraging for publishers: 13 percent, compared to just one percent for the 33-to-44 and 55-to-64 age ranges.

The report comes as such big-media companies as News Corp., the New York Times, and others are poised to start charging—again, in some cases—for online and mobile news access. The News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal has always charged for Web access ($2/week) but will soon be charging for mobile access as well, while the Times, which has been completely free online for a few years now, looks set to roll out a Web subscription plan.

But as PaidContent:UK notes, convincing readers to suddenly start paying for what they’re used to getting for free will be a tough sell. “Those that now opt to charge for stories will have a hard time squeezing back into the bottle a genie that has been out all this time,” says the article, and from the looks of this survey, they’re probably right.

Other interesting stats from the PaidContent/Harris survey: Given the choice of payment options, 54 percent of readers would opt for a subscription, versus 26 percent for a day pass and 21 percent for per-article access. Most readers (72 percent) said they’d only be willing to pay less than £10 (or about US$16) for an annual online news subscription, while 62 percent said they’d pay between 1-2p (or 1.6-3.2 cents) per article. For a day pass, most (71 percent) would only part with 25p (about 41 cents) or less.

So, tell us: If your favorite free news site started charging for access, would you pay up? Or would you just go somewhere else that’s still free?


One thought on “The Future of Journalism- Survey: Just five percent willing to pay for online news

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

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