EmanciPay: a new business model for newspapers

Rex Hammock is right to gripe about the newspaper turtles pulling their heads in their shells and complaining that readers aren’t paying for the goods papers offer for free online. In that post he runs down some of the drumbeats he’s been hearing:

Here’s the problem with all of those systems: they’ll all be different, silo’d, inconsistent with each other. And doomed to fail for all those reasons.

Here’s the solution: One new system that makes it as easy as possible for readers to pay for the goods, but voluntarily, on their own terms. This new system would turn consumers into customers by giving them the pricing gun. And here’s what’s also cool about it: We’re already working on it at ProjectVRM. It’s called EmanciPay. (Note: when this was written, it was still called “PayChoice”. DS – 1 September 2009)

It’s still early. But it will get a lot less early if some of these pubs stop complaining and put their shoulders (and their wallets) behind work that’s already going on.


  1. Jon Garfunkel


    As a reader, what is my incentive to pay through PayChoice?
    I don’t see it.

    I considered this problem 17 moths ago when I articulated PaperTrust. It’s possible I emailed this to you directly, but I also posted it as a comment to your blog in November ’07.

    It seems fairly obvious to me, and I haven’t heard a single objection to it. Media websites will continue to throw annoying/crawling ads at readers. There are two ways for a reader to get out of these ads frustrating their experience:

    a) Using browser plugins to disable all ads
    b) Paying a modest subscription fee

    Salon offers (b). Why don’t more news organizations? While I think we should all have a right to pop-up blockers, I can’t see targeted ad blockers remaining legal (cf. Napster, Grokster).

  2. Doc Searls


    I like PaperTrust, and am pointing to it again in a post today.

    Meanwhile, the incentive with PayChoice is appreciation and convenience. It won’t work unless it’s easy.

  3. Openworld

    Could PayChoice also work with a newspaper-sponsored prediction market along the lines below?

    Mark Frazier
    —————Openworld post at Doc Searls Weblog ——–

    Here are some thoughts on how the Globe and other struggling papers can move towards financial sustainability…

    In addition to a comments section, the Globe could add a “related predictions” space by each article or column for readers to make cogent (Twitter-like lengths) forecasts of specific events related to the article that they see unfolding over a three or six month period.

    To make predictions, readers would pay a one-time or subscription fee to enter the pool, bringing needed revenues to the publication.

    The best predictors over time could earn karma points convertible to status or visibility. One reward option would be inclusion as a high profile guest columnist, after the precedents that Nicholas Kristof and others have set at the New York Times.

    Another reward option be to periodically include the best predictors in a “open forum” on trends in given fields, where they would be free to comment on trends and make further predictions.

    Such a newspaper/blog-sponsored prediction market system might also provide for cash prize, in which a share of the reveue stream could be given to local or global good causes of the best predictor’s choosing.

    Hope this helps – look forward to further thoughts on the approach.

    Mark Frazier
    @openworld (Twitter)

  4. Insurance

    It sounds like you’re on the right track. Question is will the newspapers go for it? I personally shy away from them because of the problems you described.

  5. Warren Hannon

    The VALUE of Print Newspapers in our daily lives.

    The main purpose of the print newspaper as a “PILLAR OF FREEDOM” is to provide all citizens of all ages, slowness or quickness of mind whether they are looking for the information or not to use their gift of understanding from their point of view in life to choose a path to proceed in their Life’s quest for peace, happiness & security from all harm.

    Newspapers can help to bring people of diverse cultures into a more homogeneous neighborhood by highlighting the cultures of each group

    Television News provides sound bites and for some it is too quick to see the truth beyond the veil of neglect, greed or indifference of possible biased reporting.

    Internet News? Is it a blessing or a curse? We thought nuclear energy was going to be a blessing until it was acquired by nations with questionable motives. Knowledge it seems always gives us a good side and a bad side that is sometimes worse than the good side.

    Internet News instead of providing a smorgasbord or variety of news for some of us to ponder over with a cup of coffee for its meaning, it gives us items of interest that we can bring up to suit our taste. Some of us do not like bad or terrible news where people suffer and will not take time to search for it.

    To understand the gift of “Free Will” one must at least know the extreme limits that some will pursue whether it is going to the moon or stealing from a bank.
    Newspaper investigating reporting helps to discern the truth about change in the good or bad aspects of our community life.

    In our quest in life, trial and tribulations will happen. I remember back in the 50’s when DDT was sprayed over our area, what a blessing to get rid of the flies until the book “Silent Spring” made us realize the truth. Birds were vanishing.

    The herbicides farmers applied to crops to prevent weeds damaged shrimp beds for seven miles at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the gulf.

    I did not go looking for the above but I happen to see it in a newspaper.

    Warren Hannon

  6. Laurena Ramage

    Dieters eat only high protein foods, such as grilled steak, chicken, fish, low fat yogurt, etc. Weight loss is only possible by making a firm commitment to improved diet and regular exercise.

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