Tuesday, 12 May 2009

News online - a "crisis of intellectual property"?

A study by PwC that has been reported in The Australian seems to bear out what I and many others have been saying:

A GLOBAL survey has found that readers could be willing to pay almost as much for some high-quality online newspapers as they do for print versions, particularly in specialist news areas.

The study of 4900 respondents in the US and Europe by accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers has found sport and business to be the areas in which consumers are most ready to pay for content.

This bears out the findings of CCH's "Professionals and Web 2.0" whitepaper, namely that people still expect to pay for quality content when it affects their business or professional decisions. Don't ask me why sport is the other special area, I have no interest in that particular topic!

Of course, there is a proviso to this assertion:

The survey said consumers would be willing to pay 97 per cent of the purchase price of a traditional newspaper for online business content, provided there were no free online products of equal quality on the market.

Providers of business and B2B information have been far more cautious in releasing free content, plus only a handful of providers have the capacity to research and verify the information. Small wonder then that this "specialist" area is considered of high enough value to purchase content, as opposed to standard news which as I pointed out in my previous post can now often be harvested from the eyewitnesses themselves.

I think Crikey.com have nailed the whole situation on the head with this pithy observation:

...what is happening is not the death of newsprint, but an effective crisis of mass intellectual property and copyright.

Again - what areas of information are worth investing time, IP and money? Selecting the wrong field or channel for journalistic or publishing efforts could mean saying goodbye to any kind of return on your work.