Seeking a business model for journalism

I came across this chart on a blog authored by three Australian business scholars:

The original comes from Steven Johnson’s presentation at SXSW earlier this year, and when I followed the link to his post, I remembered reading it. But I guess I didn’t really spend much time on the chart that time around; I didn’t remember the chart at all. Now I’m thinking it’s a pretty neat representation of this “ecosystem” of news and information.

Tim Kastelle points out that “the functions that seem to make money in these type of systems are aggregating and filtering” — and thus when we brainstorm about new business models, we need to look deeply at those functions.

What I like most about the chart is that it tries to represent the news environment as it is now, without skewing it toward some idealistic model that doesn’t reflect reality. What I don’t agree with is those one-way arrows — everything in this model flows in two directions now.

10 Comments on “Seeking a business model for journalism

  1. Pingback: modelos de negócio, valores de fundo e a salvação da pátria do jornalismo « monitorando

  2. I would like to know in simple words what would be the new model of bussiness in journalism. Practically I see only advertising, or selling news, or getting donations, Is there a new one?
    Thank you and regards.

  3. Thanks very much for the mention Mindy. Thanks also for the Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency, which is a fantastic resource. I agree with you that the arrows need to be pointing in both directions in the diagram – and I also think that different successful business models will each have unique combinations of functions taken from among those in the chart.

    Martha – I think that those are still probably the three methods of payment that are most likely to work, but that the important shift to make is to start thinking about what news-related functions can best generate revenue from those sources. I think that the model is a good one – I describe it in some detail here:

  4. It is an interesting diagram. A couple of things came to mind while pondering it over the last day or so:

    1) There is only two sources of revenue for journalism: advertising and donation. Donations sustain NPR but are unlikely to sustain many large organizations.

    2) Overlaying the heirarchy of generation, commentary, curation and distribution ( a hangover from tradtional models ? ) may obscure where future opportunites lie.

    3) Future opportunities are more likely to be smaller in scale. It is becoming a long tail business environment. Looking for ways to rebuild large vertical organizations in the short term is not likely to be productive.

    3a) It seems likely that lessons could be drawn from the telecoms industry of 20 and 30 years ago. That is monopoly to lots of smaller scale providers, to specialization leading back to working verticals.

    4) Content based niches are successfull at creating a following and should be able to generate revenue from that following.

    5) Agregators will always have eyeballs. Aren’t the current forces driving traditional media into the roll of aggregators?

  5. I agree that this is a useful way to think about the ecosystem of news and information. But, Tim,
    don’t you think that PR professionals should be added to the list of news creators? They are as much a source of news content as direct events–and they are going direct to their target audiences (i.e., bypassing traditional news media) more and more these days.

  6. Lisa, PR should definitely be included somewhere, as it is a function that clearly is playing a role in news generation. Just to clarify, the diagram originated with Steven Johnson – so he should get the credit for the thinking behind it.

  7. Pingback: business models summary « Business Models « Innovation Leadership Network

  8. Pingback: Ecossistema jornalístico, papel, internet e outros coisas mais » Ensino de Jornalismo

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