Finding a profitable media model? Easier said than done

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' $250 million purchase of The Washington Post will be closely watched because the viability of traditional media is still an unanswered question.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' $250 million purchase of The Washington Post will be closely watched because the viability of traditional media is still an unanswered question.

Just last weekend, The New York Times Co. sold The Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry for a fraction of the price it paid for it in 1993. Newsweek said it was being sold to IBT Media, the publisher of the International Business Times, after shutting down its print edition. Each deal underscored the troubles plaguing the newspaper industry as print ad revenues drop and more readers turn to online content.

When I was in journalism school several years ago, my professors talked about this dilemma ad nauseam. I guess they expected my generation to come up with a solution, a way to produce in-depth, innovative journalism while continuing to make money. I wish I could say I've found an answer, but until then, I'd like to offer an example of how I've been consuming my news lately.

My friends love to post BuzzFeed articles on Facebook, but top ten lists don't satisfy the craving I have for real, smart news coverage. But with more options for getting that news than ever before, staying informed can be a daunting task. I want to know what's going on in the Middle East but I don't have time to sift through dozens of articles for background. I also want to share what I'm reading with my friends.

Enter the Skimm, a daily e-newsletter that rounds up the biggest news stories and explains them in a quick, fresh way. I learned about the Skimm from one of my favorite food bloggers, and ever since I've been starting my mornings with it. I forwarded it to my sister and a handful of friends, and like me, they love it because it's simultaneously intelligent, easy to understand, and fun to read. It's brief, but often I end up clicking through to full news articles on the stories that interest me most. Every newsletter is interactive, encouraging readers to share it and follow the Skimm on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

The Skimm is published by two women in their 20s who used to work as producers for NBC News. I'm not sure if they're figured out how to monetize their venture, but regardless I think they've stumbled upon an important truth about the future of media. What I like best about the Skimm is that it feels like reading an email from a good friend, and that is the quickest way to build trust and loyalty.

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