Monday, March 15, 2010

Survey: Readers Don't Want To Pay For News

A new consumer survey suggests that getting people to pay for news online at this point would be "like trying to force butterflies back into their cocoons."

That's one of several bleak headlines in the Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual assessment of the state of the news industry, released Sunday.

About 35 percent of online news consumers say they have a favorite site that they check each day. There's little brand loyalty: 82 percent of people with preferred news sites say they'd look elsewhere if their favorites start demanding payment.

For the online survey, the project interviewed 2,259 people from Dec. 28, 2009, to Jan. 19, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus five percentage points.

Many news sites and even bloggers have begun charging or asking for donations - which may undermine the whole reason for news coverage. In addition, while bloggers and news sites always try to attract new readers, they forget that it is the return visitor that is key to their continuing role as providers of news, information and opinion. We have never forgotten that.

But somehow, that concept has gotten lost in the age of greed and the almighty dollar - as pro-capitalist as we are. We've always thought that journalism is a calling like any other credentialed profession - and we appreciate our readers - first timers and return visitors. We'll never ask for donations or charge. Our expenses are paid by video ads.

Project for Excellence in Journalism; Society of Professional Journalists

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