Why We Won't Pay for News

I recently forged my way the myriad of news reports on networks, papers, and web sites and discovered lots of attention-grabbing stories:
  • Reuters had a story about the death of Mickey Rourke’ 18-year-old pet chihuahua.
  • CBS News reported on cart that transforms into a sleeping tent for the homeless.
  • Associated Press told me that Twitter was limiting message length and intending to start testing ways to make money.
  • The New York Times informed me about people walking and running in stairwells as a means of keeping fit.
  • CNN reported that Lance Armstrong’s stolen bicycle had been recovered.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported on a city council candidate criticizing a rival for being defense attorney that represented a client who was accused of shooting a sea lion four years ago.
  • ABC News carried a story on its website about efforts to produce cola containing cow urine in India.
  • MSNBC reported that Starbucks is increasing the products its offers in offers as part of an effort to improve its performance.

Interesting? Yes. Significant? Hardly. Economically valuable enough to get people to pay for the news? Never.

Therein lies the problem. Most news organizations are still stuck in the get-the-attention-of-audiences, entertain-them-with-some-news-in-hopes-they-will-attend-to-serious-news-that advertisers-pay-for mode. They complain about declining audiences and use of news, but they are doing little to add value that makes it worth consumers paying for it themselves or spending time with it.

News as commodity; news for the masses; news that is fleeting; news that doesn’t provide significant intrinsic and extrinsic value will never induce readers, viewers, and listeners to pay for it. We are already paying what it is worth—little or nothing.