The internet is an enormous blessing and curse for the media. It’s provided an immediate, worldwide outlet for news organizations to share their stories.
But, it’s also an unstable business environment where companies are struggling to make money from an audience that wants and expects to get the news for free.
There is a glimmer of hope, found in a Reuters Institute Digital News Report, that says there’s an audience that looks like they may be willing to pay for their journalism: millennials.
The conventional wisdom has been that millennials – the first generation to grow up with the internet - won’t pay for anything.
Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said all media have seen an increase in audience this year. And those that charge subscriptions for physical products or for their digital product have also seen a bump.
The largest percentage growth, however, for long-form magazine stalwarts like The New Yorker and the Atlantic is up most among millennials, a group that’s roughly ages 18 to 34.
For those publications, millennial subscription growth – which has been and still remains low when compared to other demographics - is still up more than 100 percent, she said.
“It’s surprising to see that even on these hard-to-read, slightly inaccessible magazines, that they are starting to see millennials kick out some cash for those products,” she said.
When millennials are making purchasing decisions, they sometimes defer to something called “the Netflix index,” McBride said. That’s the concept that young consumers who pay about $12 a month for the video streaming service will weigh other buying against that investment, she said.
“Is this worth more to me than my Netflix subscription? If it is, then they are willing to pay for it,” she said.