Pay for News vs Save The Media

Just a quick follow up on Death Cycle of Newspapers – News Corp will charge for newspaper websites, says Rupert Murdoch – Current days of free internet will soon be over, says media mogul (The Guardian) Rupert Murdoch expects to start charging for access to News Corporation‘s newspaper websites within a year as he strives to fix…

rupert-murdoch-001Just a quick follow up on Death Cycle of NewspapersNews Corp will charge for newspaper websites, says Rupert Murdoch – Current days of free internet will soon be over, says media mogul (The Guardian)

Rupert Murdoch expects to start charging for access to News Corporation‘s newspaper websites within a year as he strives to fix a ­”malfunctioning” business model.

Encouraged by booming online subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal, the billionaire media mogul last night said that papers were going through an “epochal” debate over whether to charge. “That it is possible to charge for content on the web is obvious from the Wall Street Journal’s experience,” he said.

The key points are:

  • The Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the News of the World might charge “We’re absolutely looking at that.” moves could begin “within the next 12 months‚” adding: “The current days of the internet will soon be over.”
  • Plunging earnings from newspapers led the way downwards as News Corporation’s quarterly operating profits slumped by 47% to $755m, although exceptional gains on sale of assets boosted bottom-line pretax profits to $1.7bn, in line with last year’s figure
  • Dwindling advertising revenue across print and television divisions depressed the News Corp numbers despite box office receipts from Twentieth Century Fox movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and Marley and Me. But Murdoch said he believed signs of hope were appearing.

Alan Schram gave some insight into Warren Buffets thinking this week (huffington post):

Newspapers: Berkshire would not buy most newspapers at ANY price. Some have only unending losses to look forward to. Twenty years ago newspapers were essential, with pricing power and monopoly over local advertising, but their “essentially” eroded. Readers no longer need them, and hence advertisers do not need them either. There is nothing on the horizon to change that.

Who is right? Amber Smith at Save The Media has a tip – Ask Yourself: What Would Google Do?  

Three rules in the age of Google:

  • Focus on the user, and all else will follow.
  • Do one thing really, really well.
  • Fast is better than slow.

Have a read of her old vs new ways of thinking about newspapers – lots of community and service based stuff. I completely and arbitrarily re-jigged her points. Heh: 

  • Old: Newspaper a product
  • New: Newspaper a service
  • Old: eyeballs
  • New: participatory audience
  • Old: Mass, broadcast media 
  • New: niche, geo-local, interest based 
  • Old: Population based
  • New: peer to peer rippling of news stories
  • Old: Scarcity – print costs, limited ad room, etc
  • New: long tail of unlimited pixels online
  • Old: Web as another broadcast out medium/channel (what I call Heritage Media Online)
  • New: reciprocity of links, place in interconnectedness
  • Old: Artificial focus groups to find out readers tastes
  • New: ask them.
  • Old: Gave the readers what the papers thought they needed
  • New: Monitor online behaviour
  • Old: Linear access to content in different sections of the paper
  • New: Hello search, tagging, bookmarking, popular by votes, popular by comments
  • Old: The Daily Miracle occurred once a day
  • New: News is always on 24/7
  • Old: Deadlines
  • New: Twitter has it already
  • Old: Branding and Form strong (fonts etc)
  • New: RSS and distribution of content stripped of Form. Googley.
  • Old: Editor sits to the right hand side of the Gods of Media
  • New: Readers will decide, edit, correct, argue and harangue en masse. 
  • Old: Newspapers delivered the same meal to each reader
  • New: personalization. Sport vs Cartoons vs Business vs Entertainment. You choose. 

And heaps heaps more. (hat tip @rodPeno)

More than once I’ve blogged about the fact that if the content doesn’t have a value-add, we will go to the original source (doctor that blogs, judge that Facebooks, victim on Twitter, Police social media press releases complete with vids and photos). Murdoch may well be right – but I want my news with convenient iTunes type features (without DRM thanks) rather than clunky unwieldy, comment based,  community-less content management systems (CMS) like most of ’em have now.  And the whole triple and quadruple dipping – charging subs, charging advertisers, charging for marketing info and whatever else passes for a revenue stream these days will make us more and more disinclined to pay anything for anything. 

Totally off topic, what’s with the extra ads on Foxtel? I thought if you paid a 100 bucks a month, for crappy programming, it should at least be ad free? o.O 

Trivia: A charity fundraiser saw lunch with Mr Murdoch auctioned on eBay for 57,100, whereas Warren Buffet’s lunch (he auctions it on ebay most years) goes for 100’s of thousands of dollars (2005, $351k, 2006 $620k). Me, I’d go to lunch with Amber Smith (more affordable :P)

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  2. What makes them think because it kind of works for the Wall Street Journal it will also work for their other publications?

    Unless they know something we don’t know.

  3. I’ll challenge one of Amber Smith’s Google-age assumptions, “Fast is better than slow”. That ain’t always the case.

    Need an example?


    But even when with News (with a capital “N”), I think a news outlet can choose to be either first or most accurate, but not necessarily both. I suspect they require different workflows and certainly different mindsets. However both could perhaps be clustered under the same brand.

    And in all this discussion, even from Mr Murdoch, we’re still getting confusion between the media content (“news”) and the container (“newspapers”). Because Murdoch and his minions are surrounded by the machinery and language of newspapers, they seem incapable of stepping out of that frame.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, you don’t make a jet airliner by starting with a steamship and converting it. Neither do I think the Google-age news outlets will emerge from the Industrial-age media factories.

    Stilgherrian’s last blog post..Episode 46 is online, Kevin Rudd!

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