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Why Can No Longer Be Free | Chrysalis Update #5

Making Scoop Sustainable - Operation Chrysalis Update #5

Why Can No Longer Be Free - Launching Scoop's Invisible Paywall

By Scoop Editor & Publisher Alastair Thompson

Introduction & Background : NZ's News Crisis Deepens
Securing The Future Of A Publication Which Provides A Voice To All
Making Scoop Sustainable - Scoop's "Invisible Paywall" Is Now Operational
Scoop Services Sale Pricing Covers All Scoop's Premium Services
Scoop Issues Cease & Desist Notice To Media Monitoring Company iSentia, Informs Moreover/Lexis Nexis & Meltwater News Of Terms Of Use
Educational And University Use Of
Conclusion - A Decision Not Made Lightly


Introduction & Background : NZ's News Crisis Deepens

Campbell Live presenter John Campbell talks to petition presenters outside TV3's HQ on Friday 24 April.

In the wake of the #SaveCampbellLive social media campaign it is abundantly obvious to all that NZ's news media is facing a crisis. Attrition of the professional news media work force continues at pace with new cuts being made at Fairfax and major cost-reduction newsroom integration projects are underway at Mediaworks and NZME.

The issues which Scoop raised in its State of NZ News Media series in January have now well and truly entered the mainstream. In a recent op-ed published on the website (and on , former Fairfax Group Editor and now Radio New Zealand CEO Paul Thompson [no relation to the author] addressed issues raised by the threatened axing of TV3's much loved current affairs show Campbell Live.

"The real problem is not the likely demise of a crusading TV programme fronted by a passionate journalist which is losing a ratings war.

Broadcasters and programmes - and styles of programming - will always come and go in the cut-throat world of New Zealand commercial broadcasting.

Instead, attention should focus on the seismic change that is shaking every media organisation, particularly those which rely on advertising revenue.

Campbell Live's vulnerability is a symptom of a wider struggle.

Advertising revenues across all forms of media are under duress as audiences revel in the choice, freedom and ease of access and interaction provided by the web."

Thompson concluded his op-ed calling for "an on-going, more nuanced conversation about the future of the news media", something which Scoop has begun and intends to continue.

Scoop's public support of the petitions to save Campbell Live and ongoing reporting of the challenges facing NZ media - including our launch of a "Campaign for Advertiser Responsibility" - are part of a broad response to the challenges we face.

However talking and petitions will not keep the lights on here at Scoop.

As signalled very publicly over the past three months (in Operation Chrysalis) Scoop is pivoting its business model away from an advertising supported model towards a subscriptions and services business model.

This week an online campaign to sell our subscription services begins in earnest.

We hope that our approach will be welcomed by our readers and contributors.

This services sale is Scoop' s response to the "seismic changes" that Thompson speaks of. Scoop will be reaching out to its readers, contributors and supporters in an effort to drive sufficient subscription sales to safely secure the future of our very useful public service online publication.


Securing The Future Of A Publication Which Provides A Voice To All

Scoop's Mission Statement adopted 2005

In formulating our response to the business challenges we face Scoop has been mindful that our solution needs to preserve the core value that Scoop provides.

Scoop’s open source approach to the publication of news - publishing releases for free and providing free public access to our archive - provides a high level of value to the businesses who routinely use Scoop.

Via thousands of businesses and organisations in NZ can freely expose their communications to a wide and influential audience of 500,000 monthly users as well as gain access to a stream of real-time actionable information, much of which is not available from any other source.

But perhaps most importantly - Scoop’s free services are more valuable to the businesses and organisations who routinely use them, because they are free:
  • If Scoop were to charge for the publication of releases we wouldn’t have a comprehensive set of all the day’s press releases.
  • And if Scoop were to charge for access to the website it would reduce the visibility of the releases.

For this reason Scoop intends to maintain a free publication policy and to maintain free access to all its content for the public.

However to recover the costs of providing the service we need to charge someone - and limiting commercial use to organisations which are license holders seems the most elegant solution.


Making Scoop Sustainable - Scoop's "Invisible Paywall" Is Now Operational

Starting today you will see advertisements like the one above appear on the Scoop website.

These adverts direct readers to pages which explain our new "Invisible Paywall" - including its legal basis- and information on who is expected to pay and why we need to do this.

If you:

  • Routinely read work related material on;
  • Send links to - or extracts from - material to work colleagues or clients;
  • Search the web and find results a reliable source of information about matters of professional interest to you;
  • Send Scoop press releases and then check to see if those press releases have been published and/or send links to those press releases to clients or colleagues;

Then you or your organisation probably needs to have a Scoop organisation licence to access Scoop.

And if you are an at-work user of Scoop who from time to time uses Scoop material for work then we would encourage you to draw the attention of your employer to Scoop's new commercial use policy.

The pricing for commercial at-work use of Scoop's content has been deliberately set at a level which should not be an obstacle. Pricing for small organisations starts at just $420 per year. Prices scale up for organisations or larger size in six tiers for organisations with more than 19, 49, 249, 1500 and 4000 employees respectively. In addition for the next two weeks we are selling annual subscriptions at a never to be repeated 50% discount.


Scoop Services Sale Pricing Covers All Scoop's Premium Services

The Scoop Services Sale we are holding to introduce our "Invisible Paywall" includes all of Scoop's premium products. The same deep (albeit short-lived) discounts apply to these products during the sale period.

Scoop's premium products are:

  • Publishing and Integration – Scoop’s new InfoPages service adds your brand, profile and useful links back to your website to your published news.
  • News Intelligence – Scoop has pioneered a unique email News service that delivers the ‘news you need to know’ in real time, and specialised bulletins to keep your team informed but not overloaded.
  • Advertising – Scoop has a range of options to help advertisers connect with Scoop’s readers and the wider Scoop Media network of sites.

The Scoop Services Sale runs for eight weeks till June 30th. At regular intervals the size of the discounts being offered will reduce.


iSentia's MediaPortal media monitoring product

Scoop Issues Cease & Desist Notice To Media Monitoring Company iSentia, Informs Moreover/Lexis Nexis & Meltwater News Of Terms Of Use

In January - while in preparation for the launch of our "Invisible paywall" - Scoop became aware that iSentia, NZ's largest media monitoring company, had been scraping Scoop and sending links to its media monitoring subscribers. Their actions breached the clearly stated terms and conditions of use we have had in place since 2012.

At the end of January we notified iSentia that they were breaching our copyright and instructed them to Cease and Desist. They eventually did so.

However as far as we aware they have not however notified their clients that they are no longer monitoring

Scoop has also notified Lexis Nexis (owners of link aggregator and Meltwater about its terms and conditions of use.

According to Scoop's terms of use any organisation which is using any of these services (or similar services such as Radian6 or Google Alerts) to monitor the publication of content is assumed to be using Scoop for commercial purposes and needs to have a commercial use licence.


Educational And University Use Of

Victoria University, Wellington

Scoop's approach to the use of Scoop by educational institutions is consistent with our "free to the public, but professional users pay" principle. Educational institutions whose staff use Scoop either for teaching, research or to keep track of developments in their fields of professional interest will therefore need a licence.

Tertiary educational institutions were among the first institutions to be contacted about the "Invisible Paywall". Their initial response was somewhat negative but discussions with them are continuing. Scoop is keen to negotiate sector wide licences wherever possible.


Conclusion - A Decision Not Made Lightly

In conclusion as of today is no longer free to use. It remains free for the general public to use, but businesses and organisations (public and private) who routinely access Scoop and act on the information they find there are now expected to contribute towards its upkeep.

We have been forced to make the changes which we are launching publicly today because Scoop is not free to produce. Scoop employs staff to assess, tag and curate the raw-news content that it publishes. We also employ staff to write news - and that also costs money.

The value which is provided to the content in this process is clearly shown in the very high levels of use that Scoop receives. However that value comes at a cost which has to be recovered.

Scoop's journey towards making the decisions which are being publicly announced today has been a difficult one. Scoop remains dedicated to serving the public - by providing everybody with an opportunity to be heard and by enhancing democracy by providing public access to a professional quality information resource - however unless we secure the financial basis of provision of this service - it will not be possible.

The forces which have forced Scoop to make this decision are impacting on all news media in NZ and indeed all news media globally. As I explained in detail earlier in the year in my essay on "Reinventing News as a Public Right" which launched our public conversation about the state of NZ news media, the entire economic basis of the news industry has been eroded.

The course of action which Scoop is taking today is one which we expect other news media in New Zealand and possibly elsewhere in the world will also be forced to take in the relatively near future.

The reality of the news industry is that our product - news and timely information - is of immense professional value to Government and business, but up till now has been paid for by advertisers seeking to reach the general public.

This model is broken and cannot be fixed. Alternatives to funding news necessarily have to be found. And what we are unveiling today is Scoop's carefully considered response.

The changes you see today are part of a larger project which will see Scoop transformed into a not-for-profit news organisation held for the benefit of the public.

If you wish to discuss Scoop's "Invisible Paywall", ask questions about the Services Sale or any other aspect of this announcement Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson will be answering questions in Scoop's Online Loomio Community.


© Scoop Media

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