Last night I watched Page One the documentary that was released about the New York Times. It was a worthwhile watch for two reasons. The first is that it focuses on David Carr, who recently passed away. The second is that it provides some interesting background on some of the more fascinating topics of coverage from the past few years.
One of the issues the documentary explores is how the New York Times and journalism will survive in the new economy. David Carr mounts a vociferous defense of the Times throughout the video and in many ways I think he is right. It appears that an increasing amount of revenue for New York Times is coming from premium digital subscriptions. Furthermore the quality of the free coverage online in the blogs was not always up to the quality of what was in the newspapers, and so we now have this next generation of online news websites like Vox and BuzzFeed that are developing higher quality content.
There seem to be two emerging models. Vox has venture money and targets premium advertisers while BuzzFeed seems to pull in ad revenue from having a long tail of content that people engage with. Ultimately I think it would be great if online ad prices reach a point that they can sustain freely available journalism. However, I believe that a hybrid between the ad model, the monthly subscription model, and micropayments through things like bitcoin will make them work.