eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar wants users to pay $20 a month to access his Hawaii-based news site, Honolulu Civil Beat.Omidyar is offering the first month for $4.99, but then users will have to pay up to news access articles and participate in their “civil space.”
The site’s lead editor John Temple, who was the former editor of now-shuttered newspaper Rocky Mountain News, explains what this “civil square” means:
Temple: As we do our reporting work, we’ll share our experiences, using Twitter and a blog-like approach on each beat. We’ll bring you along, we’ll point out important developments, and ask for your help and your thoughts. When we’ve come to our own conclusion about an issue, our editorial board will let you know what we think.
$20 is steep, and if Newsday’s pitiful paid users are any proof, Honolulu Civil Beat may be doomed.
But Alex Salkever at Daily Finance thinks he’s on to something, thanks to mainstream media:
For starters, the subtle reeducation of Web users that not all content is free is well underway. The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times are all on paths to paid content in their online forms. Since these are “must read” publications that drive lots of other news coverage, it’s hard to ignore this trend.
Still, the national newspapers charging for content have established, obsessed readers and much wider audiences than a civil site could ever hope for. As Temple himself points out, the news site’s job is to find, assemble and break news — not make their users work for it. News is fluid, and could leak from their site onto other Hawaii-based news sites that are offering their content for free.
Unless Omidyar & co. can find exclusive local data, dazzling new services or some other kind of premium content to offer their users, Civil Beat will have a tough time not getting, well, beat.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.