Garcia Media argues that the relative strength and soundness of such entities as The Economist and Londonpaper implies that the best journalism models might be elite and free. Many elite publications and free publications are in the same soup as other struggling print media, but Garcia's point is worth examining.
Without question the audience is more discerning and capable of finding high-quality content, so the need is clear for newspapers (which, after all, arrive last in the media cycle with news) to be more reflective, contextual and conceptual.
The issue I wonder about (but haven't concluded about) is the free part, because if advertising is going to find many other vehicles in the time ahead, shouldn't journalism have a larger value proposition that includes an economic bond with its audience? Won't the elite actually pay for quality? Won't they particularly pay if it's delivered to their door or place of work?
The free media will continue to grow economically through advertising if they deliver a growing, attractive audience, but free also means the audience is relatively free to move away at a moment's notice.
It is true that content is a commodity available freely, so I'm only arguing for subscription models involving either hand-delivered and/or unique content not first available online. The connection of the subscription is a healthy tether of loyalty and a convenant between the parties, and in an age of media promiscuity, isn't a hybrid of advertising and subscription still a worthwhile model?
What do you think?