Background Note | HBS Case Collection | January 2010 (Revised October 2010)

News in the Digital World: Who Pays?

by Stephen P. Bradley and Nancy Bartlett


Models to monetizing news in the digital landscape, which is real-time, searchable, sharable, multi-sourced, anytime, and any screen, were emerging in 2010. Could content creators get people to pay for what they watched, read, listened to, and shared online? Were news aggregators riding on the backs of the new content generators? Or were they providing a new stream of audience directly to new sites that needed to create innovative models to monetize their content? As more delivery models were on the horizon (location-based breaking headlines via cell phones) and more content production unhinged from a commercial entity (images captured and uploaded from personal cell phone cameras), the news industry landscape became freewheeling and individualistic. The straight-line model of content generator to distributor to reader was gone.

Keywords: Business Model; Newspapers; Disruptive Innovation; Technological Innovation; Online Technology; Journalism and News Industry; Publishing Industry;


Bradley, Stephen P., and Nancy Bartlett. "News in the Digital World: Who Pays?" Harvard Business School Background Note 710-456, January 2010. (Revised October 2010.)