How The iPad Is Transforming The News

October 12, 2010
Dan Katcher

Over the weekend my wife and I finally cancelled the Boston Globe subscription we’ve held, as loyalists, for years. Long overdue for a good cancellation, we got fed up with the all too frequent blast of music from the delivery guy at 5:30 AM, the occasional missed deliveries, and, to some degree, a thinner less substantive Globe then used to be. From now on we’ll use the iPad to consume the same content, and more, that we used to pay for (at least for the time being). And in theory it’s better for the environment.

Timely that two articles discuss the very topic of changing newspaper models. BostInnovation did a nice write up of new scenarios for the Globe as they shift (in face of a decreasing subscriber base) from free content online to dual sites, one with lightweight local news and one with premium paid content. BostInnovation sees the key being that users will pony up to pay for the premium content – those users that appreciate more detailed, quality reporting. So newspapers recognize that premium content is, well, premium. Yippee!
The second article came from the Times on the shift of media outlets as a “federation of individual brands” (in this case journalists). Again, the theme is premium content. Premium content, from the best writers, is what will drive people to a site. We’ve seen that locally, in just one example, as Scott Kirsner has migrated from being a Globe journalist to being an individual brand with the Innovation Economy blog.
But what really pulls it together, and in fact, may let the Globe start to rebuild by charging for their content, is the iPad. Having shifted our reading of the morning paper to the iPad, I have to say that – guess what – it’s pretty much, as an experience, just as good. Yes I miss the turning of pages and the grabbing a section to read in the morning. But, it’s all the same content and it looks fabulous on the iPad.
The Globe realizes that they have a falling number of subscribers. And the Globe gets that they have premium content that might be gotten by subscription only. And I hope the Globe gets that the notion of subscription is now palatable because of the experience on the iPad. Not on the web, but definitely on the iPad.
Is this going to be the revitalization of the newspaper industry because a) there are iPads and b) there is premium content? The two mix just fine, thank you very much. Bring on the subscriptions. I’ll pay for good content, all in one place.

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