I've used Kodak Gallery forever. Back since when they were still Ofoto. I love them--for no other reason than it's a really easy way to share photos with friends and family, and a really easy way to store and organize pix. Take pix at the family Easter party? Upload and share. Take pix at Dad's birthday? Upload and share. Take pix at Burning Man? Upload and share. And the same happens when someone else takes pix. I now have easy access to other people's Burning Man pictures. My nieces' ski trips. A company party.
I've done this forever. For free. Never bought a thing. Not a single hardcopy photograph. And KodakGallery has let me get away with it. Until now.
The good folks at KG have recently sent me a notice. Two actually. Letting me know that, regrettably, they can no longer completely support my mooching. They will happily continue to store my photos online. But I, they say, must do something for them: For the amount of storage I'm using (less than 2 GB), I must make at least $4.99 in purchases every 12 months. Otherwise, bye bye pix.
Now here's the thing. I don't want $5 worth of hardcopy pictures. I have no use for them. I've gone completely digital. But you know what? I'll do it. I'll go ahead and buy $5 worth of pix I don't want.
Why? Because I find their service incredibly valuable.
Sure, I could download all those albums. But that would take forever. And it would take them away from my family and friends, who also still have access to them on Kodak Gallery. All in all, it's easier for me to just pay them the money and keep my pix there.
So what's the takeaway for journalism? If you create something your users really value, they'll pay for it.
There's a lot of talk about business models these days. But I don't see an equally focused and concerted exploration about what readers actually value--not just what kind of news they want to receive, but the forms in which they want to receive it, and the devices on which they want to receive it. Yes, there are a slew of projects working on various aspects of this question. But the dominant drumbeat you hear coming out of the news world these days is: How can we get people to pay? Not: How can we create something so great, people will happily pay?
Without that second discussion, however, there's little point in the first. If we do have that second discussion, however, if we do find forms of journalism that people truly value, I assure you, readers will pay. Happily.