ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


Price points for journalism: low low low by mattsteinglass
March 7, 2009, 2:35 am
Filed under: Internet

Caleb Crain has some worthy thoughts on what people would or wouldn’t tolerate in terms of micropayments for online journalism. He notes that in Walter Isaacson’s recent article on micropayments,

…Isaacson suggests that a newspaper might be able to charge as much as $2 a month for full web access…

I think this price is much too high and is based on a too-exclusive understanding of how to structure access. People don’t want to access material through the single newspaper/magazine as gateway. They want to access individual articles. Like the iStore iTunes broke up music into individual songs at a low price point, micropayments have to break up stories/posts into individual screens at low price points. The access and payment need to be through an online payment service, as Caleb goes on to suggest, and that payment service needs to give you access to the entire range of for-pay online content, not a limited set of titles.

Caleb suggests charging an assumed fee of 5 cents per article and giving the reader the option to pay more or less at the end. I basically think that this involves too much thinking on the user’s part. The principles I would try to establish would be: a standardized price per page view across the whole range of participating sites, so the user doesn’t have to spend any time thinking about it; and prices under 1 cent per page view. At that rate I’ll end up paying a lot more than that $2 a month Isaacson suggests, but I’ll be doing it in tiny increments I don’t notice, and I’ll be putting together a smorgasbord of material I want to see from different sites of all kinds.

The main is that adoption of the practice has to be collective by all the major organizations. It is possible to get people to pay for things they’re used to getting for free — think of ATM fees. In that case the fees don’t even serve any productive social purpose; in this case they would be rewarding people for creating journalistic and other content.

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