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Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

“That will make journalists as important as ever, though it may not mean there are as many journalism jobs to go around.”

The profusion of newsworthy events, the unsustainable growth in personal news consumption, and the decline of online advertising will spur more fatigued news consumers to pay more for less news. That demand will spur more news and tech organizations to build products to serve them.

Paying more for less news doesn’t mean indiscriminately cutting back on volume. The companies that capitalize on the demand for less will be the ones that customize their news not only to their subscribers’ taste, but to what reporters and editors think really matters. That will make journalists as important as ever, though it may not mean there are as many journalism jobs to go around.

Limiting coverage to what journalists think matters will sometimes mean making hard choices to not cover what competitors are framing as the big news story of the day, or to wait to cover it until the story is clearly one of the big news stories of the week or month, and the reason for its importance has emerged.

Most paid products won’t have mass audiences, which will limit their use of ads while raising their prices until they’re out of reach for many news consumers. Pricing out some potential readers could further fracture an already fractured news consumption environment.

Subscribers who consciously limit their news consumption, and especially their breaking-news consumption, will find that they still learn about many stories of the day, not from journalists or journalism products but from unpaid curators: their friends and family who haven’t limited news consumption and can’t wait to share what happened in the White House today. The storytellers will be pleased to know first; the story hearers will be pleased to not have had to wade through lots of news they don’t want to know the story.

Carl Bialik is the data science editor at Yelp.

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