About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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« Sheer Idiocy | Main | Mutter's Manifesto »

February 05, 2009


Evan Rudowski


I've been enjoying your blog; you are one of the early online newspaper pioneers and you speak with great authority.

You are right, there is no point forcing people to pay for the same old newspaper content online.

However, I am glad to see your open-mindedness about the opportunity to charge for the right content online.

My company, SubHub, hosts hundreds of subscription websites, so we know the model works. Very few are run by traditional newspapers, although a number have been launched by print newsletter publishers covering niche subjects. And many have been launched by journalists, authors and others.

To get people to pay for online subscriptions the content must ideally possess four key elements: originality, authority, timeliness and actionability. It must offer real value to the reader, enabling them to make money, save money, or enhance some other activity such as a hobby, profession, personal interest, or health.

Newspapers sometimes create content that fits these criteria, but not consistently. Still, the opportunity is there for them to focus more on doing so.

The main point is that the model works, if publishers adapt to the model. That's why I continue to challenge the people ("socialist digerati," as Henry Blodgett calls them) who stubbornly insist that "content must be free." Following that logic is a trap for any publisher seeking to identify a range of business models that might work.

Best wishes,
Evan Rudowski



I could quibble with the premium model - heck, even the porn sites are getting slaughtered by all the YouTube porn knockoffs. But that's a quibble, Mark.

The analysis is spot on - especially calling out the folly of gluing the old print model onto the digital world.

This is not a surprise: Too many of our existing "online newspaper" efforts are little more than exporting existing text-driven print content onto the web. It's take too many of our organizations 15 years to figure out that the medium (especially in a broadband world) displays information differently, and that the audience is demanding (and consuming) more varied forms of story telling (narrative photo galleries, anyone?).


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