Why Buy the Media Cow if You Can Get the News Milk for Free?

Last week, Yahoo News announced that the company has recruited a handful of traditional and social media journalists as it begins to focus on generating original news content and increasing the site’s popularity. As a result of the most recent hirings, Yahoo News now has a staff whose previous gigs include positions at “Good Morning America,” The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, The New York Observer, Politico and more. Charged with bolstering site traffic through original news content, the journalists’ work will complement the articles Yahoo currently licenses from the Associated Press and other news syndicates.

Although it hasn’t been explicitly stated, the assumption is that Yahoo will gradually transition to all original content in a bid to become a more trusted news source. The company made a similar move three years ago with its sports coverage, and the results have been more than successful. According to Greenough client Compete.com, Yahoo’s Olympics site was the go to source for information during last month’s Winter Games with more than 16 million consumers logging on to the site during the month of February.

If Yahoo News can replicate the success of its sport media property, this is likely to be a winning venture for the company. Traditional news sources are increasingly charging viewers to access content online as circulations dwindle and ad prices falter. As my colleague Jena previously blogged all News Corp sites—including The New York Post, The Times of London, The Sun and The Wall Street Journal—will move to the subscription model this summer. According to News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch the move is necessary because, “Quality journalism is not cheap. The digital revolution… has not made content free.”

But by hiring tenured journalists with top-tier media experience, Yahoo offers a compelling rebuttal to Murdoch’s argument. As the site begins to put out more original content—and as News Corp properties and other Web sites begin to charge for online access—I’m betting Yahoo News will see a significant increase in traffic while it’s subscription model competitors experience a noteworthy decline.

What do you think? Are you more inclined to view Yahoo as a trustworthy news source knowing that the articles are written by award-winning editors and reporters? Or does the cache of The Wall Street Journal justify spending money to view the content? Thoughts welcome.

-Contributed by Kate Finigan. Follow her @PRKateFin