Sarah Hinton Is It Worth Paying for Premium News Sources?
Jinfo Blog

Wednesday, 12th November 2014

By Sarah Hinton


Sarah Hinton considers the impact of free sources for news and whether paying for premium news aggregators can be justified when there are free news and sector-specific sources available.


FreePint Topic Series: News, and BeyondThe way in which organisations search for, and use, news sources has gradually changed as new internet sources have sprung up, offering not only news searching but additional services such as customised email alerting and publication selection.

This article examines the impact that the availability of such free sources, in combination with the rise of social media news monitoring via platforms such as Twitter, is having. 

Convenience and Speed

The convenience of the one-stop-shop news aggregator is being challenged by free web services, so much so that, for some organisations, the growing use of resources such as Google News and Twitter plus sector-specific source families such Qmed, Food Navigator and Cosmetics Design, is able to equal, and in some cases beat, the delivery of current awareness from the premium provider.

In a world where speed of information delivery has become a key factor of information provision, this ability alone presents a notable challenge. Taken together with other aspects such as justifying the cost of subscribing and immediacy of user-friendliness, we're witnessing what could be described as the gradual erosion of the dominance of premium news services.

The premium service is being nudged away from pole position as a must-have resource, to one that now has a respectable rival in the combination of freely available services and may sometimes be dropped altogether as a result.

A Risk Worth Taking?

Dropping a premium service means taking a risk, but a risk that some organisations are deciding is worthwhile.

However, it is a decision that can only be taken after comprehensive investigation. Time must be allowed to cross-compare fee with free, and knowledge of the organisation and its users is key in order to make an accurate evaluation.

The End-Users, Too, Are Getting Harder to Please

The business case presented to the financial director must show a clear justification and return on investment (ROI) for the cost of subscribing to a premium news source - and this is harder to make to the executive who is familiar with internet searching and social media tools.

End-users are increasingly used to quick and simple searching, plus news being pushed to them via social media accounts from pre-selected sources and favourite news sites.

All this means that the premium news source certainly has a tough audience to convince in order to persuade today's users that they should learn to log-on to a separate platform and learn to search it effectively instead.

The recent Subscription article, Evaluating Premium News Services Against Free Sources, provides more information on this essential subject. This Blog item is part of the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond.

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