Journalism

  • 20 August 2016

HBO’s John Oliver took a close look at the state of journalism. Everyone is in dire need of facts and story research. No one wants to pay, as it seems. This is not really the truth. It’s a simplification. Every newspaper has its online edition. Contrary to paper the digital articles allow for the sampling of statistics. The paper edition throws a few hundred grams of data into a mailbox. There is no feedback channel. You do not know who reads which article. You do not even know how many people read the paper. You may know some information about your readers from the data subscribers leave voluntarily. That’s it.

The online edition offers much more feedback. You can track users. You can record their favourite interests. You can take the time spent on the web site. You can do a lot more. What if I don’t want to be tracked? Where is the Do Not Track button in the online form for buying subscriptions? Someone isn’t paying attention.

I read a couple of news outlets (let’s use this term). I cannot afford to buy a subscription for all sources. This brings me to another business model that is absent from the market. I would like to read articles from many newspapers and pay by article at the end of the month. Trouble is that this requires a cross-newspaper identification which in turn can be used for tracking again (and it can only be done in an ideal world where copyrighted material can be syndicated easily, so it is pure fiction). Facebook and Google think about this for some time. I would prefer the news without the tracking.

So who wants to sell me some news?

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