Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Do article tags matter? Maybe not for traffic, but publishers are using them to glean insights
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 28, 2009, 4:53 p.m.

Yet another “What if you go online-only?” scenario

The administrator needs to log in and select a Google Analytics account.

This question keeps getting asked in various ways: “What if you just stopped printing the newspaper and went online-only? How many people would you need, what would your costs be, and could you earn enough revenue to make a profit?”

It’s not necessarily the right question, because there’s still life left in print. An online-print hybrid, with one or two days a week of printed distribution tied to a strong digital publishing operation, is probably a much better solution than online-only.

In any case, Peter Kafka of All Things Digital is the latest to noodle the online-only version and has posted a spreadsheet supplied by Mark Josephson, CEO of Outside.in, which offers a news platform, Outside.in for Publishers, that can augment a local news site (such as that of a newspaper or TV station) with a stream of content links to local blogs and other sources.

In Josephson’s wildly optimistic model, the news operation gets 40 million page views per month, which is then augmented by 93 million page views from the Outside.in adjunct, and ultimately this sugars down to a tidy annual profit of $2.8 million with 20 employees who earn $70,000 apiece.

If it were that easy, it would be happening all over. The problem begins with the combined page views of 130 million per month, which is more than nearly all U.S. newspaper sites get, as Topix CEO Chris Tolles pointed out in response to the Kafka post. As well, it seems unrealistic for the Outside.in add-on to the local site to more than triple the combined monthly traffic.  Maybe for the typically underperforming broadcast site, that would be the case, but not with a newspaper partner. Tolles questions the assumed ad CPM, as well.

Josephson responded to Tolles by saying “but the model still works with fewer . [Pageview] reductions reduce the attendant expense and would require fewer people.” Well sure, but look, a typical 30,000-circulation daily paper is lucky to get a million pageviews a month, which, even if leveraged to 3 million with Outside.in, would scale the 20-person staffing model to exactly 0.5 people. Back to the drawing boards, I’d suggest.

POSTED     June 28, 2009, 4:53 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Do article tags matter? Maybe not for traffic, but publishers are using them to glean insights
Analytics company Parse.ly found that sites are expanding their use of article tags to track sponsored content and control paywall access.
It’s time to apply for a visiting Nieman Fellowship
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard wants to hear your idea for making journalism better. Come spend a few weeks working on it in Cambridge. Deadline: October 31.
From Nieman Reports: From earnings reports to baseball recaps, automation and algorithms are becoming a bigger part of the news
“Let’s have a computer do what a computer’s good at, and let’s have a human do what a human’s good at.”
What to read next
2577
tweets
The New York Times built a Slack bot to help decide which stories to post to social media
The bot, named Blossom, helps predict how stories will do on social and also suggests which stories editors should promote.
1310Jo Ellen Green Kaiser: Do independent news outlets have a blind spot when it comes to ethnic media?
The head of the Media Consortium argues that, by defining themselves in opposition to mainstream media, independent progressive outlets miss out on the power of ethnic and community journalism.
1029Newsonomics: 10 numbers on The New York Times’ 1 million digital-subscriber milestone
Digital subscribers are proving to be the bedrock of the Times’ business model going forward. How much more room is there for growth — and at what price points?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Daily Telegraph
The Huffington Post
Hacks/Hackers
Journal Register Co.
DocumentCloud
The Daily Voice
Public Radio International
Quartz
Voice Media Group
Alaska Dispatch
Kickstarter
Seattle PostGlobe