HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 20, 2012, 12:26 p.m.

The value (and weakness) of niche

“Online advertising is still fleeting, and no amount of social metrics canoodling, in my view, is likely to change that — even for Facebook.”

Next year, I expect to see more people taking a hard look at whether — and when — paywalls really work. We have seen evidence that they generate revenue (but not nearly enough) at the biggest sites, but I am not sure what the takeaway is for the local level. The harsh reality that hackfests, news startups without business models, and open source and hacker journalism will not provide any financial opportunity may be more clear, even if all this work leads to more reinvention in journalism.

The long slow bleed of money, advertising, and resources from newspapers will continue, and we will see (in less obvious ways) similar patterns emerge for network news. People are excited about partisan and hyper-involved cable news viewers as revenue streams (and niche viewers), but we need to remember just how small, ultimately, these audiences are in the grand scheme. (Fox News averages about 2 million viewers in prime time versus about 20 million or so for the networks.)

To me, the question about partisanship is deeply concerning as these folks (on both sides) are information-seekers, while the majority of people tend to become most involved when an issue presents itself as relevant to their daily life (think the Connecticut school shooting and gun law debates). These information-seeking behaviors are deeply concerning — especially when we think about a decrease in the availability of quality local news. (If, of course, that news indeed was quality to begin with — a presumption we must question.)

It seems to me that David Carr is always right on, and his most recent column suggests a pattern that we will be increasingly cognizant of: that niche is useful — if not hamstery, and can succeed if it isn’t — because it’s niche. But online advertising is still fleeting, and no amount of social metrics canoodling, in my view, is likely to change that — even for Facebook. I would be delighted to be wrong about this.

Nikki Usher is an assistant professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.
POSTED     Dec. 20, 2012, 12:26 p.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Predictions for Journalism 2013
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
Running a sports league and running a news operation aren’t the same thing. But there are lessons to be learned from baseball’s success in navigating mobile.
Why The New York Times built a tool for crowdsourced time travel
Madison, a new tool that asks readers to help identify ads in the Times archives, is part of a new open source platform for crowdsourcing built by the company’s R&D Lab.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
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 ➚
Spot.Us
The Sunlight Foundation
Hearst
Daily Mail
Next Door Media
Al Jazeera
Seattle PostGlobe
Connecticut Mirror
Kaiser Health News
The Daily Voice
American Public Media
Chicago News Cooperative