Sunday 18 August 2019

'iTunes of journalism' gets young readers to pay for content

INM Editor in Chief Stephen Rae at the Content Summit stage in the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys
INM Editor in Chief Stephen Rae at the Content Summit stage in the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

A Dutch company that has been labelled the 'iTunes of journalism' is convincing young readers to pay for articles online.

Blendle co-founder Alexander Klopping informed Web Summit attendees that over 50pc of the site's users are under 35, a demographic that is typically averse to paying for online content.

The site collates articles from different sources and requires users to pay a small sum to read articles.

"There's a trend going on in journalism where more and more journalism starts going behind a paywall," Mr Klopping told the crowd.

"You enter the Wall Street Journal links or the Financial Times links and it tells you to subscribe, and a lot of young people don't really want to do that.

"It's a real shame, because we think that people actually are willing to pay if they can pay 20c, 30c per article, and just pay with one click.

"We have to build these different ways of making sure that people pay for journalism."

The website allows users to ask for their money back after paying for an article. Mr Klopping said about 5pc of users ask for a refund.

He said bigger publishers are making the most money from the platform, but added that it was a way for smaller publishers to reach a new audience. The site is tailored for individual users based on their interests.

"There is a lot you're missing out on. There could be a great piece in Vanity Fair, or in your local home town newspaper, that you currently don't see. And you can hope that it will show up in your Facebook feed or in your Twitter feed, but it's too random.

"I think the truly important thing is the way it looks. We try to make every story look like it's from the original publication."

Mr Klopping was joined onstage by Newsweek Europe editor Matt McAllester, who said the model was "very interesting".

"It sounds like if the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal are getting younger readers…who would pay 50p for something good, then that's reaching a new audience and for us that would be very attractive," he said.

The discussion was moderated by Independent News & Media (INM) Group Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae.

Mr Rae said INM - the publisher of this newspaper - aims to inculcate a start-up culture in its newsroom.

"What people desire and what audience consumption is all about is storytelling. That's what I tell our young journalists," he said.

Irish Independent

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