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Ask PW: Do you pay for any of your online news?

I wanted to see if I could "hack" the typical PW format and get the community to weigh in on a question that's really been of great interest to me lately: Do you pay for any of your online news?

Premium subscriptions to newspapers like Washington Post, New York Times, or Wall Street Journal and weekly sources like News Week, Economist, and Harvard Business Review cost upwards of $100 or more! What about this content makes it "worth it" to you?

Stashed in: Awesome, Monetization, Content is king.

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

I'll chime in first since PandaWhale has many readers and few writers.

I don't actually pay for any news right now.

And I'm increasingly of the opinion that news is bad for us... I'm inclined to discourage others to pay for the news, too.

I don't want to poison the response pool with a tangent and am genuinely interested in the value that someone may get from WP, WSJ, or NYT online that inspires them to pay upwards of $100 per year for information that AFAIK is available anywhere else, but to your point, I don't really disagree that the news generally makes people unhappy -- though I feel a certain amount of civic duty and responsibility (as a person who is potentially capable of positively affecting the world that I live in) to be aware of what's happening around me both for altruistic as well as selfish reasons. That is sort of my dilemma here.

And besides, I also think of PW as as a form of "news" and I know that we both would agree that PW is good for me :)

On that note, as of late, I've really come to believe that the definition of "news" is different for everyone. For some, it might be traditional newspapers. For others, it might be celebrity gossip (as sad as that makes me). Still for others, it might mostly be some carved out subset of politics, or whatever else you can imagine. The overall point is that "news" is "previously undiscovered information that you're interested in", though there is this element of serendipity that is also generally welcome and helps you to discover new things.

Based on that thesis, I can't see how traditional news sources as we know them will survive unless they adapt to use predictive analytics to personalize news content for each person, and this has led me down an interesting entrepreneurial path that I'm feeling out.

It's a prototype of a news service that solely uses historical social media signals (what you've tweeted/posted, who you follow, what you "like", etc.) to bootstrap a predictive model and create a filtered/ranked news feed from your social channels. The core idea is that you can use your existing social media input signals as both an interest graph and as a news aggregator source.

Or to paint it even more simply for just one channel, imagine a feed/digest that could always show you the most relevant top N pieces of content from just your Twitter feed. The current problem is that even for just Twitter as a source of "news", if you follow more than a few dozen people, you simply can't keep up with it you experience information overload, get overwhelmed and give up, miss the good stuff, etc. A "personalized timeline" with the right UX goes a long way in fixing that...and if it could adapt and learn as your interests change (without requiring any real effort on your part as the user), it seems like a pretty good system.

I *think* this is not too different from what I understand Prismatic to be working on...

Along similar lines, Facebook has recently started up a fairly rockstar AI division - - and is definitely working on the problem of filtering/ranking the news feed. Although, I have heard Facebook described as "news for people who don't care about news", it looks like they are working on fixing that.

Right, not just Prismatic but Circa takes the definition of "News" as "anything New that is written".

When left to my own devices, I tend to stash items on PandaWhale that I know I'm going to want to find again a year from now, 5 years from now, even 10 years from now.

As opposed to Facebook, Twitter and most News websites and television channels and papers, which are obsessed with "What's happening right now?" and/or "What just happened?"

You're right that there's a continuum but I do find evergreen content to be much more valuable.

I couldn't agree more about the value of evergreen content. I tend to find that evergreen content is often more akin to "wisdom" than anything else, which is what makes it so valuable.

Now, imagine a world where you have the amazing curation UX and community of PW as it exists right now but with an enhanced "discovery mechanism" that allows you to more easily discover "news" from outside of PW from your social media that you can then stash it and the virtuous recommendation cycle can continue.

I only pay with clicks, reading, and sharing. 

And your time. And attention. And privacy.


How I imagine you saying that :

That's a Bingo gif - PandaWhale

nailed it

Ideally a service would learn what you like and remember what you've seen so it can always present you with interesting stuff that's new to you.

Really good point! "Don't tell me things I already know about. Tell me about new things"

suggestion is a good way of losing people fast though

Losing people? How so?

When a site continually provides poor suggestions, people stop visiting. 

Back to Matthew's initial question: It's not money that stops me from buying online content.

It's time.

Time, and a feeling that news is no better for me than junk food.

Just to clarify, when you say "time", you're referring to the time investment it would take to actually read the stuff you have purchased in order to make it worthwhile?

Yes. None of them seem interested in offering an a-la-carte model where I just pay for what I read.

content is vs nyt, right?

Yes, and they all like to push us into subscriptions.

I don't buy online news access, but it does come along for the ride with my home delivery of the Sunday edition of the New York Times, which, now that I think about it, is really an ass-kicking $36 / month for me just to go outside padding down the front walk in my undies to pick it up... my Austin neighbors have to pay in their own way too, apparently.


But it serves a higher purpose I suppose: having the feel of dead trees in my hand instead of bland avatars vibrating silently behind a lit screen in my lap, which is also being fed by dead trees and dinosaurs... and that higher purpose is: 


"The strong desire for remembrance of experiences one has never had."

The print version of the NYT at $36/month does not include online access too?

yes yes, $36/month for Sunday edition only, but I said online access does comes along for the ride...they include that

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