Andrew Sullivan on Revenue for Journalism

Andrew Sullivan, in an interview with Capital New York:

I think the only future for journalism is reader revenue. Without it, you are in danger of becoming a public relations or advertising company disguised as journalism, like Buzzfeed and even The Guardian. Buzzfeed is really an ad agency with some journalistic window dressing. They’re not the future of journalism; they’re the marginalization of it. And The New York Times, alas, is following suit with merry abandon.

I think he’s right about Buzzfeed, but in a different way. It’s not that reader revenue is the only future for journalism. It’s that pageview-driven revenue is a corrupting force. Pageview models so dominate online advertising that many people treat them as synonymous. They’re not. There are ways to do advertising online that don’t lead to the dangerous incentives (in a word, clickbait) and reader-hostile experiences that pageviews do.

Let a thousand non-pageview-driven revenue models bloom. Direct reader contributions are working well for Sullivan’s The Dish, and that’s great. But it’s not the only way.

Thursday, 9 October 2014