Nigerian Newspapers to charge fees for online news by 2010

Digital Content

Access to online news content on Nigerian news websites will no longer be free of charge by end of 2010, Jeremy Weate of the School of Media and Communications, Pan-African University, Lagos has predicted.

Weate who made this forecast today at the ongoing international conference on journalism and new media technology in Africa holding in Lagos told attendees that access to the website of major newspapers like ThisDay, Guardian, among others is not expected to be free by next year going by developments in other media markets in developed economies.

Already, it has started in Nigeria with Punch, one of the nation's leading newspapers charging for access to its website.

Weate who based his forecast on the direction in which the largest news media outfit, The News International, is headed, said that media managers in Nigeria will also head in that direction in his lecture entitled, Traditional News Journalism Versus 2.0 Journalism, delivered at the forum.

Generally, Journalism 2.0 is regarded as new media outlets such as YouTube, citizen journalism driven by the emergence of the internet.

According to him, The News International owned by Australian born media mogul, Rupert Murdoch has often been in the forefront of trends in the media and has announced its plan to begin charging for its online news stories.

Because of the size and influence of The News International its fee payment take-off will begin a trend in the industry and thus these fee-paying internet news media will by extension encourage widespread adoption of premium content models on rival sites, Weate added.

Though he foresaw some information still remaining free in such areas as initial access to the homepage and perhaps a free one-month trial subscription, he foretold various pay-for-news structures and models such as “pay per story/word” content, or “pay for analysis” by popular columnists, or news groups subscriptions and kindle-based subscriptions.

However, asked whether Nigeria's Punch Newspaper, which earlier this year adopted fee payment for its online news stories was setting the pace for Nigeria and conforming to his prediction for the future, Weate was of the opinion that The Punch had begun two years earlier than it should.

“I wonder how much money they could be making charging a fee at this time, considering that their subscribers will only need to go to other websites offering similar stories for free,” he said. He argued that the more realistic model would be to take off with fee payment in two years' time when majority of the online news media would be embracing the payment trend simultaneously.

Technology Times