Picking and Choosing Your News

A few weeks ago, a question Professor Robinson asked stuck out to me. Or maybe it was my answer.

We were talking about algorithms, and more broadly about the personalization of news — whether readers should be able to weed out what they want and don’t when it comes to news.

For some reason, I answered with a pretty harsh no. Something in me likes the rawness of “seeing it all.” As I’ve written before, that’s a huge part of the reason I love Twitter. No filtering, hardly any personalization.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot since, and have come to realize more and more how wrong I am in many ways. First of all, I do live in a bubble. As much as I like to think that my Twitter timeline is a good representation of what’s going on in the world, it’s just not. My online viewpoint of the world’s happenings is infinitely narrow, even with my attempts to seek out opposing opinions or see what issues are affecting someone on the other side of the world. (which I still think is important to do.)

Anyways. The future of news will be very personalized. I guess I’m just getting used to that idea and realizing its importance. Not everyone wants to read/see everything.

That brings me to The Winnipeg Free Press, a Canadian newspaper which is the first North American newspaper trying something that people apparently call “iTunes for news.”

(They are awesome simply because of this.)

Each online article on their website will be 27 cents to view starting later this month. They also provide a refund if the reader isn’t satisfied with the purchase in any way.

This allows the customer, just like in iTunes, to pick and choose what they want to read and what they just don’t care about. The Winnipeg Free Press is hoping this will work better than a traditional paywall like The New York Times’s that allows 10 free articles a month before requiring a subscription.

According to an internal analysis, the paper says there are many casual readers who read about 15 of their stories each month — these casual guys are the one’s the paper is hoping to appeal to.

Plus, it’d offer way more revenue than digital advertising (a thousand reads would be $270, while having a $270 CPM is unheard of for newspapers).

I’m not only warming up to the idea of personalization, I’m realizing the sheer power it might have. After all, millennials don’t want full albums and they definitely don’t want a whole newspaper’s worth of content each month. But only 27 cents for an article? Maybe. Just maybe.


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