What works in digital news: A consumer’s view

Like with all consumer products, selling a New Media service requires answering this quintessential question right — what works? I love The New York Times. As a digital news consumer, I have a theory for why it works for me. But before I delve more into that, let me list out the key assumptions, at the risk of sounding too simplistic.
Online news and infotainment have broadly two types of consumers. First, those who want news and infotainment about interesting current affairs. The others are Netizens looking not for just ANY news, but for information THEY want, delivered in a way THEY like.
Consumers in the first category will settle for any news source that feeds their need for basic news and infotainment. They are more likely to skip paywalls and settle for a reasonably satisfactory FREE source. With ad rates falling and competition multiplying, that idea won’t excite too many news business managers.
So then what works? I say, feed the consumer who REALLY wants what you offer. Take The New York Times as an example. It’s a visual treat — amazing photographs, great interactive features, videos and text stories. I crave for its visual storytelling. It says to a consumer like me — “Hey, I am constantly making efforts to offer something YOU like.”
Sooner than later, I will end up paying for such a personalised, niche service, provided I am tempted enough, the key temptation being a subscription rate that doesn’t shoot through the roof!
A dedicated fan following can be created around any niche product, say a news service for techies, or sports enthusiasts, or movie fans. And they are most likely to do what business managers want them to do the most– Pay!

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