Friday, November 29, 2019

Why most publisher paywalls are destined to fail

Picard: News organizations need to focus on creating value for users

Picard: Your content has to be exclusive and specialized.
Now that Google, Facebook, and other tech platforms have taken away most of their ad revenue, news publishers are realizing they need to get revenues from users to stay afloat.

Well, good luck with that. Most of the paywalls or freemium products they have created are doomed to disappointment.

Publishers will have trouble breaking their bad habits. They have been so busy delivering mass audiences to advertisers with increasingly frivolous or sensationalistic content, or delivering profits to investors by cutting key editorial staff, that they may not have the know-how or talent to produce content valuable enough that people will pay for it.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

My newsstand guy is quitting, victim of digital media

PAMPLONA, Spain -- For the past five years I have been buying my newspapers on the weekend at a neighborhood newsstand. The owner and I, Jesus Erro, got to be casual friends, and we talked about the politics and culture of our respective countries. He is a big reader.

Sign in the window announces the owner is retiring and closing the shop.
This weekend, I found out he is closing his doors and retiring after 27 years at that location. Nobody wanted to buy the business, and he had reached the legal age to retire, 62. His son is a teenager, and his wife works for the local government, and he plans to focus on them. But beyond that, he isn't sure what he will do.  

Versión en español

Three years ago, I interviewed him to get his perspective on the newspaper business in Spain. All the dailies were suffering at that time. It had been in a steady decline since 2008, first because of the financial crisis and then because of consumers' switching to digital platforms to get their news. Lately, it has gotten even worse.

Erro loves books, and his original idea when he bought the shop was to sell books. Newspapers were just a sideline. With the crisis, he also took to selling bread since lots of cafes and bakeries opened up nearby and also sold the local newspapers.

Below is a video of our 2016 interview, with subtitles in English.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Erro will close for the last time. He had a clearance sale going on. I bought an armload of National Geographic specials on science and archeology.

There are few nearby places to buy the national press, so I'm not sure what I will do. I still like the printed editions, especially on the weekends when there is a lot more to read.

Most of all, I'm going to miss our conversations.

Here is a link to our original interview: Newsstand owner adapts to survive media crisis