Bump, Slump, and Subs

Facebook doesn’t want to be a publisher, and it really¬†doesn’t want to be a news publisher, so it should come as no surprise their reaction to accusations they spread fake news is to kill all news in the “newfeed”.

This brings us back to a long-running argument. The future of journalism is not in hunting page impressions on social media. Sure, tell people news sites exist, but the advertising micropennies from the resulting pageviews aren’t going to pay the rent. Longterm, news needs paying customers, not advertisers. Not even if the advertisers are paying for “brand journalism” commercial features.

Subscriptions are the future. Own your words, and sell them to your readers. Call it something else if necessary, membership programme, premium community, supporters and donors, anything. Build a hard paywall, soft paywall, or regular donation drives, but revenues will come from readers. Advertising is not worth the effort for ever-diminishing returns.

And don’t take recent readers for granted. Just as there was a Trump Bump, there will be a Trump Slump. All those new readership subs from last year’s Shellshock Moment are about to expire. They need more than just the latest madness from Washington. Keep it local, stupid.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.