Monday, March 21, 2011

Start-up Journal: If it Costs Money, Will People Just Go Away?

WHEN WE CAME up with the idea for JUMP, I decided that we should be free. I wanted to follow the models of Grid and Philly Beer Scene. They reach their very specific communities and serve them well with free magazines.

I think we can do the same.

Last week, the New York Times announced a paywall strategy. This follows similar experiments here in Philadelphia and elsewhere around the country.

I have real fears that if information comes at a price, people will decline. They'll lean on the free services, like cable news or random online places. That is frightening.

Broadcast news is so desperate for viewers that they air almost anything salacious, and rarely do they provide more than superficial coverage of stories.

The online world is fantastic for breaking stories but it is also a hotbed of inaccuracy - last week, word spread that CNN was sending 400 reporters and crew to cover the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. While the false information (it's really 50 staffers) originated in the Wall Street Journal, it was quickly disseminated by dozens, if not hundreds of bloggers.

We have been slowly turning people into idiots with quick hits, salacious stories, superficial coverage and false information.

And now that reported news is going to cost money, I fear more people will click on to the free sites like Gawker or Perez Hilton than actual news sites.

JUMP is intended to be a magazine that goes deeper and gives people the story behind the band (or whatever). Do we provide quality information that people would pay for? That's not the point. We want everyone to have the best information, not just those who can pay.

I just hope there are enough people left out there who haven't been dumbed-down by the media.

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