In 1981 it cost $10 to access The New York Times online just for a day. That access also took two hours to download. Nowadays, most online news is free to access, although some newspapers are charging for subscriptions. Here is an overview of how digital news has evolved and where it could head next.
The Beginning with Zero Pictures
When digital news first came out, it originally cost $10 per hour during the day and $5 per hour at night and originally all you got was text. There were no photos, no comics and no impressive fonts. However, there was a benefit to that. There were no ads! A reader could just sit back and enjoy reading the news. The cost for a day’s access helped to keep the paper running and made it possible to put it online.
Only a few papers offered the ability to access it online to start with. The Internet was still relatively new and some people never thought it would take off.
The idea wasn’t to make money; it was for the publications to determine whether this was something they could focus on in the future and for employees to learn how to navigate the online world. However, it was too expensive for people, especially when the print publication was just 20 cents.
A Move to Cheaper Subscriptions
Publications had to make it cheaper for readers. Why check online with a slow connection if it was cheaper to read a whole newspaper in print, and get the pictures at the same time? Advertisers and publications started working together, especially with the introduction of advertisement programs like Google AdSense. It also helped that internet connections got faster as technology moved from dial-up to broadband.
Advertisers would pay for premium spots on the online paper or publications would sign up to sites like Google AdSense to have adverts placed at strategic points. It allowed some papers to offer their online version for free. However, these would be cut short and not include the whole news. Some sites have since started offering their whole paper for free online.
However, there were publications that continued to charge their readers for online access. Rupert Murdoch is one of those people who ensures his publications are not free. A year’s subscription for some of his is just short of $40; much less than the $10 per hour!
Newspaper Apps and More
Since the invention of the smartphone, apps have become a must for businesses, and publications have followed suit. People want to read on the go, and the apps are the best way to do that on mobile devices. This has opened the ability for publications to start charging again, with subscriptions for most of them. However, there are a few that offer free apps. Readers can enjoy news with pictures as if they would online. The difference is the apps are full of advertisements that can run the batteries down.
What about the future for newspapers? Mobile technology is definitely the way for them to go right now. There are chances that the print publications will become more obsolete and companies will focus more on the online and mobile versions of websites. Interactive methods are also more likely, as social media sites and online forums become popular.