Why porn and journalism (and food safety) have the same big pay problem

Everyone loves food safety – as long as it’s free.

I figured that out about 20 years ago, hanging out with food safety professionals at megalomarts who were neglected until there was an emergency.

Insert food safety in places to this piece below from The Atlantic by Jordan Weissmann:

The early days of the Internet were a bonanza for major pornography studios, as the web transformed adult entertainment into an instant, unlimited, and completely private experience — always just a credit card charge and a cable modem away. But what the Internet giveth, the internet taketh away. As the most recent Bloomberg Businssweek recounts in its feature on the rise of the new and controversial .XXX domain, the big production companies have seen their profits shrink by as much as half since 2007, as audiences have fled to aggregators such as XTube and YouPorn that offer up a never-ending stream of free naked bodies.

Stuart Lawley, the entreprenuer behind .XXX, has a plan to try and reclaim some of that lost revenue — micropayments. Per Businessweek:

Next year, ICM plans to introduce a proprietary micropayment system. This service, Lawley promises, will help blue-chip pornographers fight back against the proliferation of free and pirated smut online. "We’re going to do for adult what Apple (AAPL) did for the music business with the iTunes store," he predicts. Consumers who have become conditioned to grainy, poorly shot giveaways, Lawley says, will get reacclimated to paying for higher-quality hard core. Price, quantity, and specificity are key. Rather than the traditional model–$24.99 upfront for all-access monthly memberships–porn consumers will shell out 99¢ apiece for short clips of niche material (akin to buying a favorite song, not the whole album). Perhaps more compelling, people seeking porn on their mobile devices will have a convenient way to purchase a quickie on the run.

Yikes. … Convincing people to pay for to watch sex is a much taller task these days than getting them to pay for a song.

In fact, it’s a bit like getting them to pay for a newspaper. Like the porn studios, big media companies have seen their own profits plummet in the face of free aggregators, amateur bloggers, and the nearly limitless competition supplied by the web. Unsurprisingly, micropayments have been a hot topic in the news industry over the past few years. But so far, they haven’t really taken off.

What holds for journalism in this case holds for sex. In both cases, the competition is so broad that customers are likely to go elsewhere rather than pay. There are, obviously, exceptions in the case of newspapers — the Wall Street Journal has a profitable paywall, and the New York Times appears to be having some early success with its own. But that might be cold comfort for the adult entertainment world.

Would you like me better if I paid you? $1 to watch a graphic food safety video? $1 to watch graphic anti-meat video?

Activists of all types may suck at science but are successful when it comes to street theater, attracting attention, on-line or in the park.

The Los Angeles Times reports the folks at Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) found a way to get people to watch disturbing animal cruelty videos: pay them.

Operating on the premise that watching a four-minute video could persuade a viewer to drastically and permanently reduce the amount of animal products consumed in their diet, FARM launched a national tour in early May to show the public a graphic “Farm to Fridge” video, made with hidden-camera footage showing farm animals, including cows, chickens and pigs, living in factory farm conditions and being processed at slaughter. Participants are paid $1 to watch the video, displayed on a vehicle specially equipped to host up to 32 simultaneous viewers.

The 10-Billion Lives Tour (named after the estimated 10 billion land animals raised and killed every year for food in the United States) began in Portland, Ore., and has traveled south, stopping at colleges, universities and fairs along the way in Eugene, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

’No boogers in my burgers’ Conn. workers want sick days for food safety

Fresh off the firing of seven union workers protesting for sick days at Jimmy John’s in Minnesota, 25 people rallied outside a Connecticut McDonald’s last week in support paid sick days with slogans like, "No boogers in my burgers."

Holding signs with slogans including, "No coughing in our coffee," protesters called on the company to support paid sick days legislation for public health and low-wage workers.

The Trefz Corp., which owns 43 McDonald’s restaurants in Connecticut and New York, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is in favor of paid sick days and a bill that would require businesses with 50 or more employees to provide an hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked has been reported out of committee.

One recent study published by the Journal of Food Protection found that one in eight food service workers reported coming to work sick twice in the last year, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.