Old Media Looks for New Models

The battle between traditional media organizations and Google, the ultimate in new media distribution, wages on. The two sides continue to parry, media organizations proposing new ideas, and Google insisting that it's a friend, not a foe.

Valerie Everett

CEO Eric Schmidt gave newspapers the friendly advice that they should innovate, in a keynote address at the Newspaper Association of America. He urged newspapers to start thinking themselves not just as content creators but also as content aggregators, platforms for disseminating information.

This is a tough transition, an entire mind-shift. But Schmidt is right that newspaper publishers need to shake up their image of themselves.

The Associated Press, just days after attacking Google for the way it distributes content, took some of Schmidt's advice. The news service, owned by newspapers, is now thinking about building a news portal of its own.

It makes sense that the Associated Press, which aggregates content for its subscribers would want to build an online aggregator for articles. Of course, the AP would share revenue with the content creators, hosting articles from any company that allows their headlines on the site.

One thing to keep in mind is that Google News manages to be incredibly inclusive of a huge range of news sources, thanks to its advanced technology, which will be tough to replicate.

Meanwhile, also today, the Wall Street Journal revealed that it's working on a series of focused information services, for which it would charge subscribers.

Alan Murray, Wall Street Journal Online's executive editor and a frequent CNBC contributor said, in an interview with Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, that they're working on a range of niche information services, which WSJ could sell access to for a premium price, generating a new revenue stream.

The Wall Street Journal already charges a subscription fee for much of the content on its website, but this would be yet another opportunity for new revenue streams.

As advertising continues to decline, this seems wise. We'll see if they can create desirable content at an affordable cost. Which is exactly what the entire publishing industry needs to be thinking about right now.

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