One of the fun things to do at this time of year is to reconnect with old friends, joke about the good times and the events of the past year and scoff about the predictions for the year to come.
I had the opportunity recently to catch up with an old friend who has remained in the newspaper business. This friend, let’s call him Mike, largely because that’s his name, has refrained from using Twitter, or other social media. As we spoke, he bragged about recording my contact information on a Rolodex card, rather than electronically. Keep in mind that Mike is an accomplished journalist. He has a Pulitzer Prize to his name. For Mike, journalism is a passion and a craft meant to serve the public. If you want to reach him, pick up the phone, or perhaps type an email on a good day. Never tweet.
Mike likely missed the CNN story this week focusing on the top viral videos of the year from YouTube.com. Susan Boyle led the pack with more than 120 million views! What Mike would give for that kind of readership, I can only imagine.
Which brings us to one of the top questions of the year in journalism. Will readers pay for online content? A Boston Consulting Group survey found that “consumers are willing to spend small monthly sums to receive news on their personal computers and mobile devices. In a survey of 5,000 individuals conducted in nine countries, BCG found that the average monthly amount that consumers would be prepared to pay ranges from $3 in the United States and Australia to $7 in Italy, according to the Center for Media Research at Media Post.
A pay-for-online-content business concept appears inevitable.
So here are a few predictions for 2010:
Susan Boyle will not repeat as the top viral video, but the winner’s numbers will exceed 120 million.
More newspapers will close, but still more will turn the corner and begin to grow revenue. A large part of this growth will come from a variety of pay-for-content plans on the Web.
As for my friend, Mike? He will get a Twitter account. And I will follow him!