The way we digest information is completely different to that of generations past. The ‘morning newspaper’ is subtly being filtered out of our lives by the likes of the Twitter timeline, ensuring instant access to information. Now, thanks to the help of a steady Wi-Fi connection and data allowances, one can now consume their daily supply of information without having to pay a penny.
According to a GlobalWebIndex report, media consumptions has increasingly become digitalised, with online activities taking up approximately 57% of our day. The digital market, and the various outlets that offer products and services to consume, is increasing by the day. Evidently, the demand is present – but should media be a product that we should pay for?
Payment for consumption isn’t a conventional trait of media, but it has always had its presence. The Sun require you to pay for a Sun+ membership to read any of their online articles in full. Blogging site WordPress encourage donations for their users, offering a ‘donate’ plugin to their users’ site. Even social media platform Snapchat have made donations part of their business plan, allowing users to send money to each other using ‘Snapcash’. Of course, the feature is too young to create ‘freelance Snapchatters’.
The debate here is whether media should be viewed in the same light by consumers as, say, music and other forms of creative art. A freelance journalist may be required to write articles on a ‘payment per word’ basis, a process which is beyond the article’s audience. A ‘freelance musician’, however, could pay to teach lessons, and be paid by listeners simultaneously through busking in a public space.
However, there are organisations that can recognise the individual talents of writers and allow consumers to pay for articles, if they so wish. Crowdfunding website Patreon allows fans to pay the site’s creators every time they publish a new piece, of which journalism articles are included. Considering the impact of large crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, which itself has a ‘Journalism’ section, the potential for writers to be rewarded beyond their pay slip is imminent.
To ask consumers to pay for their media is like asking them to pay for their air – it’s everywhere, and it’s something they consume daily. Still, the above developments could be signs of change for marketers and journalists who want to be recognised for their creative work by their readers, not just their employers.