In 2011 I completed the research on my master thesis at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences in the department for Interface Design, supervised by Prof. Dr. Frank Heidmann and Prof. Reto Wettach. My thesis was looking into the digital news distribution system, exploring the infrastructure, interactions and business models.
State of the Newspaper Industry by 2010
Back in 2010, when i started my research, the landscape of the newspaper industry changed. The iPad was just introduced by Apple, paywalls were widely reintroduced by the industry and the numbers for printed newspapers was on the decline.
An analysis of the “Media Analysis” conducted by the University of Cologne unveiled, that the overall number of sold copies in all segments especially daily newspapers is dropping, particularly the younger generations show not the same amount of interest in printed media than the generations before.
Future Business Models
In the analysis phase newspaper websites, mobile news applications and other technologies in the digital news landscape were analyzed. The insights were combined with research on innovation diffusion (e.g. M. Rogers) and customization and commoditization processes (e.g. Gilmore & Pine). To use those insights in the ideation phase on business models we employed the “Business Model Canvas” by Alexander Osterwalder.
One of the biggest concerns for the industry are daily news. While the distribution through print channels is less and less profitable, the paywalls implemented on the web haven’t proven to be a good replacement either. I believe one of the reasons it is so complicated to make money from those news items is the ubiquitousness of those news items. Daily news usually contain only a small amount of information and have a short validity period. Due to this the open social information distribution infrastructure available on the web is the perfect soil for spreading this kind of news quickly. The need for a payed channel, liked printed news, is even more obsolete as those daily news are ubiquitous in our everyday environment. We receive those news on the web, radio, television, they are part of casual conversation with colleagues and through many more channels. Due to this i believe it is not likely that the monetization of daily news themselves is successful.
Future Business Models
„,We will tell you what is important in this sphere because we know you. You can trust us.‘ We took this to a different level and called it curating.“ Bruce Nussbaum
Instead of the small daily news i focused on two other monetization options. On the one hand long news stories, like stories we find in weekly newspapers and magazines. Those could possibly be sold as single items. If we look at how information consumption has changed throughout the last few decades (e.g. Nicholas Carr) those types of articles could become a lot more important. On the other hand the option to make money from curation instead of the raw news materials themselves, taking Gilmore and Pine’s Commoditization process into account. And if we want to make money from either curation or single news items, we need to change the way we sell it. We need to find ways to incorporate payment techniques that don’t interfere with the interactions users are used to.