news:rewired #5: how to make online pay

James Fryer(@jamesfryer), deputy editor, – “like Time Out for Gloucestershire”

One of the few local sites to run successfully and in profit, 67,000 monthly readers


  • sell display adspace
  • know your market
  • find a niche
  • do it well
  • forge partnerships for added content (eg swap content with other providers) BUT if you can sell content better to do that than give it away for free 


  • don’t compromise, don’t expand unnecessarily (don’t jump on every bandwagon) – waters down your content and editorial voice, must retain your editorial integrity
  • don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself – if you produce good editorial content it will be stolen, you must choose whether to pursue offenders (it’s expensive) but it’s worth it to keep editorial control (soglos has had over 200 individual copyright infringements)
  • don’t spend all your time on Twitter (bandwagon again)
  • don’t rely on user-generated content – soglos moved from forums and user reviews to high quality editorial by journalists
  • don’t stop moving forward – embedded widgets (about 200 so far on other sites), iPhone apps, journalist-only franchise model to help others

Caroline Kean, partner with media law firm Wiggin, on legal issues

  • the web is just another platform for distribution as far as law is concerned
  • you own the copyright, don’t need to register that but good to make it clear with a copyright note at the bottom, terms and conditions
  • copyright applies to the expression of an idea, not an idea itself eg one event listing isn’t copyrighted, but compile lots and you have database rights, add editorial and you have copyright
  • if you take other content for commercial purposes, you’re probably breaching copyright
  • “fair dealing” use of other content applies to current events (words), criticism and review; only amount you genuinely need, and not if you’re a competitor
  • “passing off” – if you have a unique style and someone rips it off – they’re piggybacking on your reputation and investment
  • libel – very active online – user-generated content needs moderation, “report abuse” button, terms and conditions (to protect yourself)
  • privacy – not just celebs these days, if you infringe on someone’s private life; eg misuse of customer data – if you’re hacked you may have to provide credit checking as well as notifying customers – need terms and conditions, procedures in place

Ben Heald (@SiftMedia), CEO of Sift Media – B2B online community titles

  • Sift splits the journalism from the production side (what Kevin Marsh said about journalists focusing on their strengths)
  • They actively chase Google business – they have several dedicated Google writers
  • It’s important to get to know your advertisers – you get known, understand their issues
  • Sift don’t have a paywall – they are niche communities and would lose most users if they started to charge [but doesn’t a niche product mean can charge?]
  • BUT they might add paid-for niche content on top of current service

Greg Hadfield (@GregHadfield), former journalist and entrepreneur (, standing down as head of digital media for Telegraph

  • Journalists need to be “entrepreneurs” though it’s not a traditional skill, previously journalists never had to consider advertising revenue or circulation.
  • The old top-down hierarchy of a newspaper – editor, desk editor, correspondent, basic reporter – no longer applies – the new media model is leaner, more efficient.
  • “The new sort of organisation or journalism is more entrepreneurial – trying to build a new breed of journalist with a different attitude to their role in society” – about recognising their part of a wider society, all about connectedness [links?]
  • “Newspapers are about to die…the challenge for big organisations is to recognise entrpreneurialism is a necessary part of the structure, to encourage individuals and leverage skills in the organisation…if news organisations don’t change they’re just digging their own graves – big ones are just slower than others to die”
  • All good journalism is investigative – have tools to do it from your desk now instead of seeking out different sources away from the office. Otherwise they’re just the same as other organisations – “get out there and do it”
  • Doesn’t believe in a paywall model – “three things people will pay for: racing tips, shares tips and porn”
  • Leaving Telegraph for COGAPP, which is “helping to shape the future not repeat the mistakes of the past” (news orgs shouldn’t just apply old ways to new medium)


One thought on “news:rewired #5: how to make online pay

  1. Pingback: news:rewired conference, Jan 14 2010 « Librarian of tomorrow

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