News making money

Ryan McCarthy, at Reuters:

But if you’re working in media now you shouldn’t be worried about getting your website to hit 20 or 30 million uniques — if ad rates continue to fall, even websites of that size may not be economically viable. Instead, media companies should be doing everything they can can to improve the economic value of their work (which may not mean more pageviews).

For those of us actually working in web journalism, this adds yet on another layer of existential angst. Journalists certainly shouldn’t spend their time worrying about how to make their articles more attractive to advertisers.

Whole article is worth a read, but I don’t think its conclusions quite hold true. For one thing, there are more ways of selling ads than simple CPM, from more careful targeting to real time bidding to TV-style channel takeovers at busy periods. Some of those have the same problems as CPM with oversupply when it comes to pure growth, but for others size of market is vastly important when combined with good user data.

Secondly, maybe journalists should think about the value of their articles, as well as their other attributes. Or if not the journalist themselves, at least someone on the editorial side. The nature of journalism online is a fascinating crossover of popularity, importance, usefulness and financial value, and every news organisation builds its editorial criteria differently from those sets. But if you build your business only on the first three, and ignore the last one, then eventually you don’t have a business at all.

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Mary Hamilton

I'm a journalist-type tech-ish geek person, working in that interesting ambiguous place where reporting the news meets all sorts of peripheral skills. In my spare time I herd zombies, design games and write stuff.

What do you think?