The news media is in trouble. The public internet brought about the information age, and within a few short years that revolution made it easy for anyone anywhere to tune in to view whatever news sources the world offers. News and information became a commodity. Instead of local radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers, anyone could obtain news from an uncountable number of sources with little more than a few clicks.
As is the case where no good deed goes unpunished, the information superhighway became a toxic hell stew of misinformation; fake news isn’t new but without boundaries, it flourished. Today, news is under assault from many sources, including its lifeblood– advertising. And there isn’t enough advertising to pay the bills.
Apple decided to help the industry with the News apps; Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The app is a single source for multiple sources of mostly trusted news sites, all within a click or a tap. The number of Apple customers that use News regularly approaches 100-million.
Win win, right? Not so fast.
News is a win for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users who want a single source that delivers news and information from many reputable sources worldwide. News is free. News is easy to navigate and contains somewhat trustworthy content, devoid of the fringes of fake news. Publishers win because they get additional eyeballs to view their advertising, and, as we all know, ads make the world go ’round.
What’s the problem?
Not enough eyeballs. Not enough clicks to news sources. Not enough advertising revenue for publishers.
Joe Lazaukas in FastCompany:
While publishers are earning millions of new readers within Apple News, they say they’re making little money from it.
Advertising revenue is an age old problem for publishers (often abated by fake news and yellow journalism) made worse in the misinformation age.
Slate gets as much revenue from an article with 50,000 views on its own site as it does from 6 million views within the walled garden of the Apple News app.
If you stay in the News app for news, Slate doesn’t make much money. If you go to Slate, the website makes more money. Lots more money. That scenario is repeated across the board with other websites with a News presence. Not enough eyeballs to make advertising money that matters.
Kudos to Apple for providing a single source of news and information for its one billion or so customers.
What to do?
Apple bought Texture, an online subscription magazine app. Pay a monthly subscription fee and you get to select and read a few hundred different name brand magazines. The subscription model is en vogue in the App Store. What we don’t know is whether or not such subscription revenue is beneficial to publishers. What we don’t know is whether or not a News subscription– where revenue goes to the publishers– is sufficiently beneficial financially.
Props to Apple for helping to prop up an ailing industry. No tech company is better at curation than Apple and the misinformation superhighway needs a curator.