It’s a way of recognizing that there are millions of blogs and other media competing for attention on the web. In other words, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You have to prove the value of your content to attract an audience, and you have to market yourself through social networks and search-engine optimization, among other strategies.
"Virtue is not a business model"
A recent blog entry by Jeff Jarvis echoes that sentiment. Jarvis throws some cold water on idealistic journalists who believe that virtue will be rewarded and that their good intentions deserve financial support. (I touched on this myself in a blog entry on the five dirty words journalists have to say without blushing.)
The marketplace has no heart and money has no social conscience. The reality of the marketplace is that digital journalism has to add value to the public conversation by offering something new. You have to differentiate yourself. It takes a businesslike approach to attract advertisers and sponsors for high-quality journalism.
Here are a couple of Jarvis’s comments that I liked the most:
- “Should” is not a business model. You can say that people “should” pay for your product but they will only if they find value in it.
- Virtue is not a business model. Just because you do good does not mean you deserve to be paid for it.
- No one cares what you spent. Arguing that news costs a lot is irrelevant to the market.
- Value is determined by need. What problem do you solve?
- The bottom line matters more than the top line. Plan for profitability over revenue, sustainability over size.