Searching for the Model

European Papers Find Creative Ways to Thrive (pdf)

In much of the world, American newspapers are seen as journalism’s gold standard. But the American newspaper’s business model appears to be broken. While much of Europe faces many of the same problems, a few newspaper publishers have found innovative ways not only to survive, but thrive in the face of the recession and the Internet.

[…] A business that has lost more than a quarter of its global sales over the last decade might not seem like the best example to follow. But alongside the wreckage left by digital piracy, new business models are emerging in the music industry — with Europe in the vanguard.

Few Europeans willing to pay for music directly, through services like iTunes, so the industry is instead bundling music costs into a broadband subscription, like basic cable channels do in the United States.

The Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, skeptical of applying micropayments to newspapers, has suggested providing access to newspaper Web sites for a fee paid at the Internet service provider level. For such models to succeed, newspapers would have to work together.

A group of newspapers in the French-speaking part of Belgium have shown the possibilities and the limitations of cooperating when faced with Google, which some see as a common enemy.