If you assumed that the future of journalism would only be free (or at least advertiser-funded), says SA Mathieson, you’re wrong. In a guest post for OJB Mathieson – who recently successfully crowdfunded his own project to report on the Scottish referendum – explains why the web turns out to be capable of charging for access too.
The Columbia Review of Journalism recently reported that the Financial Times now has nearly twice as many digital subscribers as print ones, having added 99,000 online customers in 2013.
They pay significant amounts for access: the cheapest online subscription to the FT is £5.19 a week. A free registration process does allow access to 8 articles a month – but try to access a ninth and you have to pay.
The FT was earlier than most to charge online, but many publishers have followed suit. Only a few – such as The Times – lock up everything, but titles including the Telegraph, New York Times and Economist all use metering, allowing non-paying readers access to a limited number of articles before a subscription is required. They have been joined by increasing numbers of trade and local publications.
This isn’t just an option for established titles: as a freelance journalist I write for Beacon, a start-up used by more than 100 journalists in more than 30 countries to publish their reporting. It has “more than several thousand” subscribers after five months’ operation, co-founder Adrian Sanders told the New York Times recently.
Many journalists would find such an idea terrifying: telling everyone how many people are reading my work? Sharing it? Finishing it? There’s simply too much to lose. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
But crowdfunding creates a different dynamic. When I backed SA Mathieson‘s project on Beacon, I wasn’t buying content: I was supporting something I believed in. I was supporting a writer to spend time on one topic.
Notably, Beacon’s own strategy acknowledges this: there is no way to subscribe to the ‘brand’ of Beacon – to get access to all content you must support one specific project. Continue reading →
The project has been called IRPILeaks and, like the Dutch PubLeaksand WikiLeaks, is a tool for those want to leak staying anonymous and safe.
IRPI aims to use this anonymity to encourage leaks from people who want to expose misconducts of companies and public authorities. A list of risks they could face in the process is published on IRPI‘s site. Continue reading →
‘I don’t do numbers’ and ‘I hate maths’ were depressingly common expressions, perhaps unsurprisingly. People wanting to study journalism enjoy the use of language and rarely expect that numbers will be vital to the stories they are telling.
So those responsible for journalism education have a tricky task. A bit like providing a sweet covering to a nasty-tasting tablet, it was said that lecturers need to be adept at finding ingenious ways to teach a practical and relevant use of numbers without ever mentioning the M (maths) or S (statistics) words. Continue reading →
I come upon examples of bad practice in publishing government data on a regular basis, but the Universal Jobmatch tool is an example so bad I just had to write about it. In fact, it’s worse than the old-fashioned data service that preceded it.