International Journalism Festival Perugia, 15 – 19 April 2015
“The beautiful thing is, that stuff doesn’t work if people have to pay for it”, said Alexander Klöpping of Blendle at the festival. He was of course talking about clickbait journalism, and indeed, the premise of the concept is that instead of charging membership fees, as traditional newspapers would, advertisers pay for this type of content. And readers aren’t stupid: they’ve already paid with their time, clicks, metadata and attention. A monetary price tag will simply be a bridge too far.
And that’s a good thing! It means that platforms like Blendle and LeKiosk, that aggregate magazine and newspaper articles and sell them through their platform (per article and per publication respectively), have a built-in quality filter to their business model. It’s no use publishing ’13 amazing places you won’t believe exist’ on there – no one will click the bait. We will only pay for quality.
However, in his keynote speech Jeff Jarvis explained that membership is not so much about paying for content as it is about a feeling of belonging to a community. It’s a mistake to try and create a community around a platform; that’s not the way human interaction and interest works. Like an anthropologist, he said, a journalist should listen to the existing world and find and serve communities there.
Running around with a microphone to answer questions from the audience in the beautiful, centuries-old Palazzo dei Priori, Jarvis casually mentioned the idea that it might actually be much more logical for the committed member of a platform to get content for free – they are the ones submitting most metadata and attention after all. The casual visitor of a site should, in a reversed paywall world, be the one paying!
Quite a sidenote! You can watch the whole keynote here.
P.S. regarding the false promise of the title of this post and on not walking the talk: