Convenience in News Delievery
Several studies have shown that an overwhelming percentage of people who typically eat at fast food restaurants do so not because of food taste, but out of convenience. It's easy, it's quick, it's right there in front of you.
This same thought occurred to me when when I recently read an old 2003 interview in Rolling Stone magazine with Steve Jobs about the burgeoning online music industry. At the time, Jobs argued that the reason why people illegally downloaded so much music back then was not always because they were too cheap to buy it, but rather it was just far too convenient to download a song and instantly having it on your music device. The only alternative was to go to the store, buy a CD, and record or "rip" the CD on to your computer. Who wouldn't download their music instead?
So, the question I have is this: How can we take these ideas to help the news industry make money? I believe online news prevails over print not because people hate newspapers, it's just easier to read it online. Many people use computers at their jobs and when they get home it's natural to want to get the news from a computer as well.
But when we talk about making money online, it's a different story. Craigslist made it simple for people to post classifieds. I was shocked at how difficult it still is to post a classified in a newspaper. Some even still require you to call a person in order to post a classified. Even sites that do allow you to post a classified online make it more difficult than Craigslist. Often you are required to go through the laborious process of creating an (yet another) online account, sometimes from an unfamiliar third-party vendor. Terrible. I would rather go to Craigslist, it's just easier.
People are busy (or lazy, depending who you ask). While the industry is consumed with talking about business models and profit margins, I would like it to take a step back and ask the question: How do I want to get the news? Most of the time, the result is the quickest, easiest way possible, or the path of least resistance.
A few years back, I once considered posting an online advertisement on a newspaper website, back when I ran a side business as a wedding photographer. I quickly realized that the process was far too complex and ultimately I didn't bother. At the time, I didn't make the connection that newspapers could be making a whole lot more money with online ads if they would just simplify the process.
I wonder how much of a part convenience played the very reason people started getting newspapers on computer in the first place.
(Image from Wikipedia free commons)