News without Editors

I am happy to pay for news. I am not happy to pay for a newspaper. Why won’t anybody take my money?

Some good articles on the future of selling access to news have got me thinking. What is the future business model of news reporting? What is broken right now?

The Past:

The distribution was via paper. Editors bundled a lot of stories together, printed them and sold access to the printed edition. Later came broadcast radio and television, using similar principles. Advertising plays a critical role, too. We, the consumers, paid for a combination of editing, the content, and the delivery.


Bundling is dead. Digital publishing, search, RSS readers, hyperlinks across platforms, suggestion tools (Memes, Google News etc), news pointing tools (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and so forth mean that I pick the individual articles that I read. I don’t care whether it is written on a blog, the NY Times, the WSJ, or somewhere else. I select what I read. I still read the content though, it is still just as valuable. Distribution has become much cheaper due to online publishing. No more expensive printing presses and paper needed.

The graphic below summarizes this:

news-publishingWhat this means:

I DO care about reading a PARTICULAR type of news item at a time when I decide. I DON’T care about reading a particular NEWSPAPER. I bundle my own news now. I am the editor. The job of editing for others is becoming less important. It is becoming obsolete. This is true for both print and broadcast.

In the past, we paid editors to pick the content, package it and deliver it to us. But now, we don’t have to anymore. And we don’t want to. I will not pay an editor to select my news. This is a dying part of the value chain. I also don’t have to pay for paper anymore.

However, I am more than happy to pay for the content. No problem. But publishers still insist on selling me editorial services…


I am happy to pay $100+ per year to an industry organization for a subscription to all content that currently resides on newspapers. This organization could pay their members dependent on the amount of traffic that comes to their sites via the subscribers of the scheme. This would mean large and small publishers could benefit proportionally to their contribution in terms of what people actually read.

But I won’t pay for editors anymore. Not in news print, not in television. I consume on demand now. I am the editor and I decide the composition of my own, personalized news flow. My ‘newspaper’ comes for dozens of sources each day, some of which I didn’t even knew existed the minute before I read them.

When can I start paying?

This video doesn’t fit the article 100%, but it is still pretty funny:

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