I never paid for it in my life

Jack Blog

April 14th, 2015 By Joe Panepinto PhD


If you ask Millennials, keeping up with the news is important. But ask them to pay for it? Forget about it.

A recent report released by the Media Insight Project showed only 40 percent of Millennials report paying for at least one subscription themselves. More disturbing, though, is the comments they collected that show an extreme naivete about why all that information is free.

I really don’t pay for any type of news because as a citizen it’s my right to know the news.
– Clueless Millennial

Um, yeah. It may be your right, but collecting, editing, assembling, and distributing the news costs money and someone has to pay for it. If it’s not you, it’s someone else (yes, that’s the way the media works). So who is it then? Brands. Increasingly. And, increasingly, it’s brands creating content directly.

In an unrelated report last week, the New York Times reported that some of its paid posts are outperforming its editorial content.

We’ve noted for quite some time that great stories can come from anywhere, and certainly from brands.
– Michael Zimbalist, SVP New York Times

I’m not one to look at sponsored content and sound the alarm about the end of journalism and democracy as we know it—it’s simply part of the unfolding ®evolution in how we communicate. It’s also a part of how brands are creating more direct and broader relationships with the people who love them. But I do think it’s important that Millennials (and everyone else) know who’s paying for their attention and why—because you may not pay for it, but it ain’t free.