There’s a simple reason why no iTunes for the news exists yet: it’s because the journalism industry has thus far failed to produce any songs worth buying.
For that matter, the journalism industry has produced very few songs at all — the staggering majority of stuff being circulated today is commodity news, contextless updates with no replay value after being consumed once.
To flip the analogy, you don’t see Apple banking its iTunes business plan on selling loops and samples. The average music consumer has no use for them. Producers and remixers do, but you can bet they aren’t buying only from iTunes.
What can the journalism industry learn from this trend? The answer is two-fold:
- It’s time to take news to the next level, to a form that not only informs and educates, but also has strong replay value. Then, and only then, will people be willing to pay for it.
- There needs to be a well-organized resource providing the raw material to feed this new form. A traditional syndication company could possibly reinvent itself to fill this role.
The new, alternative platform would operate something like this:
- Let members add original reporting, photos, videos and audio files to the system.
- Sell this material to news producers and remixers under a royalty-free license. The original owners of the files get a cut of the sale.
- Enable monetization of the link economy through ad revenue-sharing.
- No DRM-like wrapper. No strings attached. This should be an open and transparent model that rewards rather than restricts those who add value to the news ecosystem.
If the AP won’t do it, someone else will. (Reuters, perhaps?) It’s only a matter of time before the news industry’s operating models dovetail with the natural economies of the Internet. Those who come out on top will be the ones who flow with the current rather than fight against it.