The Canadian Association of Journalists is holding its annual conference in Vancouver next week, and it promises to tackle some major issues facing the industry, like the dismal state of the publishing industry, a tough economy and the “making money” topic. Yet, it seems no matter how many brilliant minds unite on blogs and panels to debate the issues, nobody knows what to do. In this clever post on Techcrunch, the concept of micropayments is discussed and challenged. So, I wanted to get some local feedback about what you thought. The post uses a recent article by Frank Fisher of the Guardian as a jump-off point to start the debate. Fisher believes micropayments can and will save journalism. He describes how:
Basically, you sign up, create a bundle of code using their site tools, wrap it into your own pages and presto, ads appear, and when your visitors click on those ads, you get paid. Not immediately. Payments – tiny payments – are tracked and added up. To reduce payment transaction costs, you’re paid one sum, once a month. The code has unique identifiers, the code is smart enough to tell Google to look at your pages, providing content-targeted ads. The database in the background keeps track. You just watch the money roll in. The transfer potential of this technology to a micropayments scenario is clear: individuals would sign up with Google, deposit funds. They’d have a unique ID attached to them at that point – an encrypted cookie stored on whichever PC they happen to log in with. When they visit a site with GoogleDosh embedded they’re allowed in, a fraction of a penny is switched to the content provider’s account for every item they read – if visitors aren’t GoogleDosh members, they’re re-routed, perhaps, to a précis, or a sign-up form, or even to a limited trial.
Do you think this method is the saviour of the publishing and online news industry? Won’t people who can and should be able to consume this information for free not be able to find a way to do so? Would you pay to read news online that you can access for free? What would be the incentive?