News sites could take advice from the nude sites

Posted on May 28, 2001

There's an intriguing question raised almost daily by most U.S. media sources when it comes to the Internet: Is now the right time to get into the adult Web-site industry?

Oh, my bad, that's my question. Media outlets are asking themselves a slightly different question: Should we or should we not charge for content?

It seems as if right now, the consensus is, well, maybe, no, er, kind of, YES!, no, I don't know. So there's not a consensus. But everyone seems to have a fairly strong opinion one way or another. Most newspapers and TV and radio stations would probably like to charge for content to gain online revenue. Most consumers would prefer not to have to pay for online content. Most badminton players would rather just hang out at the World Badminton page, which was last updated during the Civil War.

A January 1998 article from D-Lib Magazine proposes that charging for online content is essential for upkeep of digital libraries. Not many people would argue with this, with the exception of argumentative people, who still maintain occasionally that the world is flat and green beans are actually orange. Most media sources are charging for archived material. But should people be hounded every time they go to read the daily news?

One solution many news organizations are using is a free subscription method. Users can have free access to the site, as long as they sign up and give demographic information, such as the name of their third-grade teacher and the amount (in gallons) of apple juice they have consumed during their lifetime. The New York Times is one newspaper using the membership model. Media sources can use this information to target advertisers and see what interests readers. That's a good reason why badminton never appears on the front of The New York Times, but I bet if they took a poll, users might want to add a few provocative pictures on the front.

That takes us back to adult Web sites . . . why are they so profitable compared to many other media Web sites? The answer may seem obvious, but it has a lot to do with marketing. For instance, even free porn sites have ads for pay sites, so the free sites make money referring other customers through ad banners. Pay sites give members a variety of activities with which to keep entertained. It's not just pictures, it's video, audio, chat rooms, all sorts of things. (By the way, instead of spending 651,071 hours researching this for the article, which I was ready to do, I found some of the information in online articles. That's good, because I prefer not to mix business with pleasure, at least before lunchtime.)

So should newspapers and TV and radio stations be charging for their content? The answer is simple: yes and no. No, I don't think they should charge for everyday material and recent news. But they could collect information from users with some type of membership service. At the same time, news organizations could charge for special sections, possibly to be downloaded, or anything that adds value to the already existing site. They should definitely be charging for past editions and stories, but of course, you have to have a payment system in place.

It would be nice for online users to be able to pay directly and get the information they are seeking right away. Even small adult Web sites are reportedly making $30,000-$40,000 a year. With that kind of money, media outlets could spend a little to add unique online content and perhaps even update the World Badminton page. Of course, that might need to be changed to the All-Nude Badminton page.