There's been so much talk about Newspaper publishers wanting to charge for online news content recently as newspapers lose more & more audiences to the internet. "Will consumers pay for news content?" is the key question being asked which I think is leading us astray and stopping us from progressing as we should.
The question I want to raise is why News publishers are looking to rework the same old product to make money and why they are not considering product innovation as a solution to their financial problems - it is 2010 afterall!
The world has changed and products must change too to stay viable. The newspaper does not have to die, free content online does not have to die, they just need to change.
News publishers have made a valiant effort in recent months to create synergy between newspaper & online advertising options for marketers, why would they not do the same for consumers?
There is certainly an opportunity to match up newspaper & online content so the consumer will need to own both to get the full force of the news.
I'm no content producer, but as an example consider this...as a consumer I buy the newspaper in the morning to get the news headlines just to get a feel for what is happening out there, I dont have too much time before work so I just need the bare essentials. If I'm really keen on a particular story I can then go online at work and read the details of the story, watch video's, see the photos, ask the questions, give my opinion and so on.
Want to still charge for online content? Then give the consumer more...beind the scenes, indepth, one-on-one sessions, question & answer sessions. As an example of what this could look like have a look at the Oprah couch sessions which are exclusive audience question & answer sessions with guests hosted online. For payment options just look at iTunes, they have my credit card details stored making it so easy for me to buy music at a simple click!
There is a way for newspapers & the internet to co-exists, we just need to look at it with fresh eyes.