Okay, so the NBR wants us to pay $298 a year for their content. And why?
Because … well, that’s where it starts to get a bit vague.
In an email to NBR subscribers, publisher Barry Colman offers two very loose paragraphs explaining the new paid offering … then spends four paragraph explaining the NBR’s problems (as well as the problems facing the whole news industry).
Worse, he then lambastes part of his audience (bloggers), calling them (us!) a huge band of amateur, untrained, unqualified bloggers who have swarmed over the internet pouring out columns of unsubstantiated “facts” and hysterical opinion.
Gee thanks, Barry.
Where’s the vision? Where is the value of what you’re doing? And why are you telling us more about your problems than your solutions?
Sure, the news industry faces big problems. And yes, citizen journalism has severely disrupted the established way of doing things. It happens! It’s happening in many industries around the world.
How do we face these problems, with fear or creativity? Can the two co-exist?
Instead of seeing bloggers as (a) a single group of people, and (b) the enemy, wouldn’t it be great if the NBR recognised that bloggers make up part of their readership, and started to dream of ways to collaborate with bloggers – many of whom don’t consider themselves direct competitors to paid, professional journalists.
Dream? That’s a bit of a “soft” word, isn’t it? It’s a bit “touchy-feely”. Not the hard kind of words that business people – especially in New Zealand – like to use, so we sound serious and businesslike and unflappable.
In order to survive we’re going to have to get a lot more soft, and start thinking of dreams and visions. We’re going to have to start thinking about the people we serve, and how we can co-operate with them to create a great outcome for us both.
And, Barry, that goes a long way beyond just asking for our money – and then insulting us.
What do you think?
Is this a marketing fail – and indeed a failure of vision and leadership – from NBR? Or is this a very canny move, calculated to appeal to the ignorance and fear of those who agree with Colman’s blogophobia? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’ve focused on the marketing story here. Others have covered questions of business model and journalism very well:
- Bernard Hickey has a great post on the business model of journalism (and he should know!)
- Great coverage by Russell Brown on Public Address – should be good to see Colman and Hickey on Media7
- More business model coverage from Lance Wiggs
- Cactus Kate takes issue with the whole journalists vs. bloggers thing
- Whaleoil “does his nut” about the whole affair
- And Julie Starr points out that bloggers are subscribers, too!
Thanks to Tropical Pete for the Creative Commons-licenced image!