Thursday, September 26, 2013

Setopati is dead (if it goes for online pay model). Long live @Setopati

Nice discussion going on in twitter about the sustainability of setopati going for paid subscription
Hands down, the people who are writing there are some of the best from the history of Nepalese journalism. We can say that digital magazine is the future. The paper magazines will decline with time. However, given the current state of development of infrastructures in Nepal, those days of losing paper magazines are still far off. I am guessing by at least a generation. There is still market value for papers. However, regarding e-papers, I am not quite sure. So, Setopati seem to count on the readers aboard. And that could be the problem!

There are few points which seems adverse if paywall is put on setopati.
  • The basic problem with current scenario is that users are spoilt. The news contents are available for free. And we are so used to reading free materials. The repulsive feeling will come because magazines like nepal, himalkhabar saptahik are available for free (because they are already supported by the offline ads). And Samaya (remember that?) could not survive the time. 
  • Lets put it bluntly. People like to hear what they want to hear. (Compare with the advertisers' who will stop ad if negative news comes out about noodles for example.) People will flock around the news site which will deliver the news which make them happy. Setopati does not seem like a mission journalism yet. They are trying hard to put a balanced perspective. Since it has not shown the color, people who are writing bad comments now will stop coming after the paywall. Therefore, there will be a positive feedback cycle creating a filter of like minded people flocking setopati. It can go either way and may hamper the audience reach. 
  • Setopati seem to count on the readers aboard. That could be the problem! Setopati asked for advise. And they gave free advise. People love it! However, I am not sure how many FB likers will pay them if a paywall is put in place. If setopati is counting on those likes, good luck! They will move to twitter slowly, where flow of news from Nepal can be read for free.
This is how they can go about supporting the running cost:
  • Take advertisements. No comments there.
  • Ask for donations instead of paywall. If setopati asks for money as donation, there could be people donating. Set goals every month. Make it transparent, as donation make people feel good about it. One example is mysansar: when help needed for "server management", it asked people to send money and people did send money. However, paywall culture for "news" is not much developed among Nepalese audience. 

Eitherway setopati will be a nice example. It can be succes, or failure. But it is nice to set an example, a business model for Nepal. Long live setopati.  

(This was going to be one of my diary note. But I am publishing it anyway. Aakar also has a great piece with the view from startup perspective. 
Also, please forgive my grammar. I would have written a shorter version if I had more time. :))

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