What business are we in ?
The answer seems easy, but not for newspapers and magazines nowadays. They have a problem. Most of them still believe their core business is to offer information.
Let’s be serious: people have never really paid more than a symbolic amount of money to be kept informed (1,60 € for your daily newspaper… less than a cup of coffee in a cheap café).
Using readers as a bait for advertisers and information as a bait for readers
Information is (and has always been) no more than an instrument, used to indirectly support the media’s core business: attracting and retaining advertisers. Advertisers are the real source of income for the media, the rest is accidental.
Once we agree on that, how should media respond to the troubles they are in ? Should they compensate the loss of income from advertisers, by making people pay MORE for information? Now that information, rather than a scarce resource, is abundantly available everywhere online?
IMO this is against the basic law of economy. Information simply is not an scarce good anymore. Oh, but what about quality content, then ? Almost everybody can be a journalist nowadays, but a good one ? Well, even if only 1% of them produces good content, the result is there is more quality content available for free than ever B4 in history.
The future of media companies
In order to remain relevant, I believe media companies should innovate by sticking to their core competence, which is not to offer information, but to attract and build up relationships with advertisers. And yes, most journalists will have to take a regular job and start writing as a hobby in their weekends.
The organizers of Tomorrowland, who ask 262,50 € for a 3-day Full Madness Pass, including the dozens of advertisers who are more than happy to be part of the party… they seized the opportunity that media companies failed to grasp.