Bruce Butterfield's question and Peggy's earlier post on the comparison of associations to newspapers begs a fundamental question…
”Is that all there is?”
If associations define themselves simply as purveyors of information (filtered or not), I would respectfully suggest they’re doomed. We may be able to “microprice” our information products to better compete with other sources, but I suspect the real problem lies in our consistent inability to place a compelling, visible value on the elements of the benefit package for which associations often have a significant competitive advantage (peer-to-peer networking, professional recognition, legislative/regulatory representation, etc.).
Micropricing will succeed in a “customer-oriented” business model. Associations will only succeed in a “citizen-oriented model” where members recognize that their participation is essential to the value they receive from their membership.
P.S. Perhaps some newspapers have successfully re-engineered themselves (see Dana Milbanks’ The state of The Post: Not too bad as apocalypses go) and, in doing so, present a news model associations might emulate.