Just what is journalism going to look like in the future?
It’s a question that’s been bouncing around my head for a while, and articulated in various pieces by Ben Thompson (in a nichification process), my friend Eric Hydrick, and others.
Eric brought up the idea of supporting “special” journalism through services like Patreon.
I think that’s a start … but still limits – as do paywalls, subscriptions, etc – informing the populace to those who care enough to pay intentionally and specifically for that publication / journalist / etc.
I think an improvement upon that is a bucket approach. I outlined one such possible technique in my recent critique of Pi-hole:
Maybe there needs to be a per-hour, per-article, per-something option â€“ a penny for an hour, for example (which, ftr, comes out to a monthly fee of about $7)- so that viewers can toss some scrilla towards the creators, but arenâ€™t permanently encumbered by subscriptions theyâ€™ll soon forget about
I’ll go out on a limb and predict “journalism”, as we have known it for hundreds of years, is going to completely disappear in the next 10 years. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s completely going away (though, with the general willful ignorance of people…maybe it will). It does mean, though, that it’s going to be radically different in form.
With the rise of decentralized (and, now,Â recentralized) publishing with widespread adoption of the world wide web, everyone can (and, maybe, should) be a publisher.
The overwhelming majority of publishers are not receiving anything from their writing – except personal satisfaction (that includes myself ..Â in 20+ years of having websites, blogs, etc, I’ve made about $35 online). And publishing for “free” (ie, self-funded) shouldÂ always be an option: as a content creator, it should always be up to you as to whether you wish to charge for what you’ve made.
But if you want the possibility of getting paid for your work, that should be an option, too: and while youÂ might be “worth” subscribing to, the odds areÂ very good you are not. And that leaves a quandary: how can you get paid for your work (if you want), without encumbering your audience into either leaving instantly, or succumbing to pressure to subscribe.
Which is why I think a bucket approach could work well – you’d know how much you had available in your balance, recharging would be simple (could even be automated – hit a threshold, recharge to some preset amount), and you’d know exactly who was getting your money, and, more importanly, forÂ what – it’s not some ambiguous “subscription” to a “site”, but paying for precisely the content you see (or want to see).
In many ways, it’s extending the Patreon idea, which is really just a modern reimagining of patronage, from mere individualÂ shows, sites, etc, down to a granularity of specific pages, articles, images, etc.
And let’s not evenÂ talk about the analytics that could be performed on payments and page views under such a model: identifying regions that are interested in certain content, audiences that like certain things, what are immediate turn-offs, etc. Incorporate some form of solid feedback/interaction mechanism, and you could possibly develop healthy gamification of your site: maybe even waiving monetary contribution if you hit certain levels of interaction on the site.
Active community building via people who actuallyÂ care (and that just happens to fund the service).
NowÂ that would be something.
Comments on “crowdsourcing patronage”
I like the idea of a “pay what you want” approach to journalism – it’d be curious to see how that plays out.
One minor correction – Patreon wouldn’t limit the visibility of the reporting output to people paying for the site. Using podcast Patreons as a working example – the content is freely available to everyone, but patrons get special perks. With podcasts, it’s traditionally a monthly hangout/call-in special with the hosts, producing additional content that people have been requesting, etc.
For news organizations, it could be a Q&A with a reporter for an issue for more on the story, or access to a forum where patrons suggest things that warrant deeper coverage. One of the nice things about the model you suggest is that you could still offer the same things, just at a more granular level, which may actually make it more valuable. It could also be a good signal for what warrants follow-up reporting.
By the way, were you thinking of something like this? https://contributor.google.com/v/beta
nice find 🙂
Comments are closed.