Monday, May 31, 2010

The Local Newspaper

It's that time of year for me again, decision time. Do I or don't I want to renew my subscription to the local paper? On the one hand I'd miss the local news and opinions, but on the other hand I get a lot of local news from the free paper that comes twice a week. As for health, environment other than local, science, national, internation, transportation and business news other than local I get most of this from other sources.

And then there's the cost. Once again the cost of the paper has risen for the printed version, this time by 5.2%. True they do have an electronic version, which is about half the price and that I may end up trying. Cost is a major concern for me. It's not that I'm not willing to pay for information, it's just that I'm on a limited budget and can't afford to pay for all that I want. That means for the information I am will to pay for it must give me good value for my money and I'm not sure I'm getting it from my local paper.

My biggest concern in tryibng the electronic edition is that it will be the same as the printed version or worse the same as their website, which is DULL! DULL! DULL! I understand the paper not wanting to give away ther storme, but their website and that of most local Canadian newspapers takes it to the extreme. There's no interactive graphics and the video looks and sounds like it has been just thrown together. They don't seem to understand that they're in the business of selling a product - their paper.

Compare this to a firm like Elliott Wave International, who are selling a forecasting service through a series of regular newsletters geared to your particular needs. They have free stuff that doesn't give away the store, but does inform. Their website has depth. It's far from dull. Their presentation got me to finally subscribe to one of their products. I'm not sure if its the one for me, but I am willing to try others to see what happens.

This has great implications for newspapers (and magazines), which I'll go into more in a future post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

On Mass Writing

I recently received an email from one of those mass markets inviting me to write for them at the princely sum of $5 to $25 an article for all rights. I declined the offer. This isn't the first offer from such a market I've received or probably the last. It's an offer that I'm not interested in accepting no matter what.

Why? For starters I don't give up all rights. You want the extra rights you pay for them. Also in order to make a decent wage I'd have to earn at least $25 an hour, which at seven hours per day (an hour for lunch), five days per week and 48 weeks per year (allowing for holidays, vacation and sick days) would bring in $42,000. I'd have to produce 1,200 to 2,000 words per hour or 8,400 to 14,000 words per day. Put in another way that would mean no more than 20 minutes per article to research and write. Personally I don't feel that I could do a topic justice in that short a time. And even if I could, it would take the joy out of writing for me.

I won't judge those who do write for these outfits. I just know that it's not right for me.

How did these sorts of companies arise? I believe from over expansion of media companies who are now saddled with huge debts and the desire to squeeze more money from their investments. The older, smaller media companies were satisfied with much smaller profits in order to take the time to do more in depth reporting. Another reason is that with the rise of the Internet, people, who formerly used to pay for content, now started getting content for free and are very reluctant to go back to paying for it.

I don't think it will last. The new Great Depression will wipe out the debt and many of the giant media companies. I also think that people will eventually realize that writers need to be paid a decent wage, which in turn allows them the time to really dig into various topics. All parties benefit from that, including the media companies themselves.