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News Corp. to end free news

 10:32 am on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

News Corp is set to start charging online customers for news content across all its websites.

In order to stop readers from moving to the huge number of free news websites, Mr Murdoch said News Corp would simply make its content "better and differentiate it from other people".

[news.bbc.co.uk ]



 11:07 am on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are The Sun readers really ready to spend money reading news about Big Brother contestants online? Time will tell, eh? ;)


 11:10 am on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

...make its content "better and differentiate it from other people"

I wonder what they can do that is better than FREE?

The battle cry of those seeking to differentiate in publishing is 'Exclusive Content', but 'Exclusive' in what way?

More 'Exclusive' interviews? But with whom, and in which sectors - business/political figures; celebrities; ordinary folk? And in such volume that hundreds of 1,000s would subscribe?

More 'Exclusive' news? But if it was that 'Exclusive' it would be picked up by every other news feed.

More 'Exclusive' opinion? But how would that be different from the zillions of blogs out there, let alone those with loyal followings and strong readerships? And would anyone pay for a blog?

Perhaps then the 'Exclusive' is in creating unique methods of delivery - or of reader participation? But how might this pan out so that sufficient people would want to pay for it?

There's always the old standby online method - to offer just headlines and standfirsts - and anyone clicking on the story gets taken to the 'Pay Now' page. Naw, surely that wouldn't work in this day and age?

'Better' and 'differentiate' is all a bit too vague. Watch this space, I suppose.


 11:14 am on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Personally i wouldn't pay for News as the supply is virtually unlimited - what i do pay for online or in print is analysis - exclusive and indepth.


 12:16 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it's a bad idea for them. Other newspapers will simply steal their readers.

On the plus side, perhaps UK politicians will stop basing policies on what Rupert Murdoch wants.

Plus, hopefully it will kick-start the debate about how newspapers will make a living in the future. I think charging for content is not the way to go. I think leading news organisations should refuse to let google list their content without a share of the profits - since Google is effectively advertising on the back of *their* content. This would only work if they all do it together though.


 12:18 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

analysis - exclusive and indepth

And preferably with a minimum of bias.

"Editorialising" seems to be the order of the day with Newscorp. Not so much the nitty-gritty How, Where, and Why's, more, "That happened, and THIS is what you should think about it".

That said, I do worry about where the money will come from to fund this in depth analysis- too many people just want the surface information, biased towards their existing world view, for free. Which is perfect for the Advertising Supported model- the demographic is self-selecting.


 12:46 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it's odd that in the caption it talks about job losses, but Murdoch talks about making his offering better and differentiating it. How can he do both?

I suspect he's wrong about micro-charging, and that he'll be better off with a subscription model. Most of us only read or watch a fraction of the news we do pay for, but we don't worry too much about subsidising the rest. For instance, you might read just 4 articles out of a 4 magazine, but if you're faced with paying 1 per article suddenly it seems a lot more costly.


 2:09 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree that subscription is the likely future if such a future exists. However, I still think Rupert Murdoch will fail to make online news profitable as will every other major news provider. I don't believe news is a commodity that can be traded profitably online. Certainly, I am not aware of anyone having managed to do so.



 3:02 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking about this.

There's no tangible product to actually sell, nothing to own having paid. Printed news is basically value-added paper (a bit like novels, I suppose). It's this intangability that's causing problems- across the world of creative works. News is arguably a special case for two reasons: the event happened, and thus was not created, and there is a supply side imbalance (only one person writes any given creative work, but anyone can recall events they witnessed).

The problem is that the profesional part of reporting will become devalued. The many news providers will be forced to merge, reducing the number of "voices", and increasing the possibility for partisan reporting.

I agree. I will not pay for news. Or rather, I pay for news out of something akin to general taxation (being UK based and mainly a consumer of the BBC's output). I guess most here are of that opinion.

So, like the music debate, and the orphaned works debate, I think there is a serious point at the centre of this. If money does not flow to the content-owners, who will create the content, and why?


 4:55 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can see that newspapers need to pay their staff, and i'm all for that.

Some journals charge for content. They can charge because they are either specialists, or have built the reputation for informed comment and quality that can't be found elsewhere.

Taking mainstream news pay-for-play, or subscription, will not work. It has to be different, otherwise, why would anyone pay.

As soon as they reduce the number of eyeballs by going subscription of some sort, their opportunity for advertising revenues will diminish. It's a chicken and egg situation.

Advertising has to be the way forward, unless you're a specialist with unique content.


 5:44 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed, this is a bad idea. It will fail just like the NY Times failed at charging for content.

This is from the man who wayyyyyyyyy overpaid for MySpace, thinking it was going to be the most important social networking site on the internet.


 5:55 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it's a bad idea for them. Other newspapers will simply steal their readers.

They are already losing money every day...it doesn't hurt to try. Unless you suppose continuing to lose money is a good idea?

This is from the man who wayyyyyyyyy overpaid for MySpace, thinking it was going to be the most important social networking site on the internet.

It could have been, but they let their users have too much control over the templates. So many ugly pages with autoplaying music...MySpace killed itself.


 6:20 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

If all the news organisations pulled their material from the web entirely, people would have to watch TV news or buy newspapers - that means good old fashioned money for advertising. I've said it before and I still think it's the only way forward for news media.

Probably, they've all figured that out by now, but no one wants to be the first to boldly step backwards for two reasons.
1) Until all the news media go offline, any benefit in terms of circulation of printed news will be modest (because surfers will go elsewhere).
2) There might just be a small profit to be made by the last remaining player.

Also, in the UK, the BBC skews things somewhat being funded by the TV license fee. I'm not sure there's any sort of answer to that problem.



 8:46 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

It could have been, but they let their users have too much control over the templates. So many ugly pages with autoplaying music...MySpace killed itself.

It was already ugly when Murdoch bought it. Maybe does not use the interwebs and did not notice how annoying Myspace can be.


 10:28 pm on Aug 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

The MySpace deal wasn't that bad. The potential was certainly there. It's his baby now, however.

The web was suppose to be a godsend for news. I write a worthwhile report in Southcrack County and everyone in the world has access to it. I go from 6,000 (potential) readers to 600 million (potential) readers.

Turns out, there are no more hours in the day, however. The audience didn't expand that much. Everyone was reading all of the news they wanted or needed, but the competition did expand. And the costs didn't go down, they went up since the economics of printing is (close to) the first copy costs $500,000 and the rest are free and webmasters want to be able to eat.

I've tried it. I put online news behind a paywall. Good stuff, you could see it early and it we had exclusive data, useful stuff. Market was numbered in the tens of thousands. Sales were in the tens. I paid for WSJ.com at one time. Not anymore. Can get all I want free with very little additional effort.

I'm a news junkie. Pay for two daily newspapers. Several not cheap magazines. Listen to NPR in the car and sometime contribute during their fundraising. I no longer pay for online news. If I will not pay, no one will.


 3:19 am on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

They could always do what ESPN is doing, include the online news as a bonus to buying their magazine/newspaper.

ESPN magazine + ESPN insider = not bad deal. Even I've considered doing it, and I never pay for anything online. A lot of ESPN's better news is being relegated to Insider information and withheld from the general public. If the best sites start doing it and make it cheap, people will jump on board.

Or big newspaper companies will die. But they might as well try.


 7:07 am on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

An overview from the BBC [news.bbc.co.uk]

"The problem is that it will never be of the monetary volume that is enjoyed today for newspapers."

Mr Marcone believes that a micro-charging structure, where readers pay just 5p or 10p to access an article, might work. "This is less than the price of an SMS [text message]. Each 5p or 10p adds up to a significant number". But he warns that it would be hard to make people open accounts for individual papers.

Instead, intermediaries could provide access to a range of publications. Mr McCabe says: "Intermediaries might work, but they won't start tomorrow." In the interim, a mixture of micro-charging and subscriptions is likely to continue.

I just can't see people wanting to pay 5-10p for news that they very likely can find elsewhere. Typically I'll spend 10 minutes at a time on the BBC news and take in three, four or five stories in one session. Do that three or four times a day and you're suddenly talking perhaps as much as 1.50 - a day. No thank you, that would be four times dearer than a newspaper and 1/20th or less of the news volume provided by a daily. For the regular news reader this type of model just wouldn't be economical.

The idea of intermediaries - subscription aggregators - is very interesting. But would that not dilute the revenue going to source? Possibly not if the subscription aggregators were owned by the publisher/owner, in this case Murdoch.

Regardless, it would surely create a very thin revenue stream in comparison to that which is needed to support today's publishing behemoths.


 2:55 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I work in London and on the train/tube to work and back I can pick up four free newspapers every day, plus additional free magazines on Thursdays on Fridays. I can then access BBC News, Sky News, Guardian, etc. all for free (at the moment). Why would I want to pay for news after all of this?

My last job was at a niche online publishing company, with a couple of print magazines that they added to their online offerings. Ad revenues across the board have fallen since the start of the year, meaning there were many redundancies, including my role there. With online publications it can be very difficult to make money - only one site out of 15 was actually contributing to the budget - ensuring a heavy loss last tax year. I really do hope that online publishers can make a good go of this, but they may need to find other ways of making money rather than using banners, advertorials, e-newsletter insertions, site sponsorship, etc.


 3:30 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

The idea of intermediaries - subscription aggregators - is very interesting.

I think this idea has promise, for anyone who has deep enough pockets to develop the necessary technology.

NewsCorp probably have enough properties to offer their own bundled subscriptions if they want to. Could anyone split revenue fairly between 20 different providers of widget news, so people can buy one subscription for them all? And if they could, would it take off?


 3:44 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Could anyone split revenue fairly between 20 different providers of widget news, so people can buy one subscription for them all?

Yep. If you can facilitate micro-payments, you use EXACTLY the same data-collection and apply it back-end.


 3:47 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

subscription aggregators

Thats what i have been hoping Amazon would do with the Kindle - if i could start the day with content downloaded from 20+ favorite magazines/newspaper i would be happy to subscribe.


 4:35 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Paid models work if done correctly... Which I believe is to still offer free, but add a pay model for the premium content...


 6:27 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

frankly I'd pay $10, $20, maybe more, a year to access news and major publications, if that's what they suddenly cost.


 8:17 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

subscription aggregators

My opinion on this is that the only way this will work will be on an ISP level.
An ISP could offer its subscribers a package of exclusive website content plus legal music and movie downloads.

My ISP includes a music subscription and I use it simply because it is more convenient than using illegal torrents (or any other illegal means).


 9:54 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

They've been talking about having a 'paid club'. This is where some of the media companies jump in bed together and then you can access all of their content.

For examaple, for $10 a month I get access to all the sites controlled by -

News Corp

That might work.


 1:02 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well years ago they all laughed at him when he moved all operations to Wapping, that didn't turn out too badly.

With regard to news OK we in London can pick up The London Paper, Metro and London Lite but the standard of journalism in those is dire. It is obvious that quality journalism needs to be paid for, and Murdoch is in my opinion right on the money that they should turn to a paid model. If he gets this right, all the other major press should quickly turn to this model.

The Guardian has what is considered one of the best news sites in the UK but there are very strong rumours that they are going to have to close the Observer (their sister sunday paper). They simply have to make more money, it's all very well having a well visited site but the revenue from both ad rev and partnership rev shares isn't working out. If I recall correctly the majority of their money comes from Autotrader and they sold a big chunk of that a while back.

It does require mass takeup off this though to work, and the BBC needs looking at as I don't feel they should be allowed to carry on offering the website they currently do funded by the UK license fee, it really affects UK competition from a lot of angles, not just news.


 2:33 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Pay for news? Me? I haven't paid for a newspaper or magazine in at least 15+ years, ever since I came online. Why would I pay now? All I have to do is search my favorite SE and someone will be breaking the news for free, I'll wait for them to break it after they paid for it. And, if they link to the story that requires subscription, that link won't be shared, we'll find other resources with similar news that can be linked to.

And, if I want real time breaking news, I'll use Twitter.

Hey Murdoch, what do you think of that?

Also, what are you going to do when people no longer share links to your news stories because they require a subscription to view? It's not going to work Murdoch.


 2:46 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed, this is a bad idea. It will fail just like the NY Times failed at charging for content.

Nytimes.com charged for certain types of low-value content--things like columns and op-eds that weren't essential to most readers and that, in some cases, were available free of charge in other newspapers thanks to the NYT's own syndication efforts.

I think a paid subscription model (as opposed to a micropayment or pay-per-view model) might work for a handful--and only a handful--of top-tier national and international publications. I might pay US $5 a month for access to NYTimes.com, for example, but I wouldn't pay for access to the Web sites of the NY Post, The Sun, or the Podunk Yokel-Crier.

For top-tier media sites (NY Times, Times of London), it might be worth charging a small subscription fee not only to get the subscription revenue, but also to deliver a higher-quality audience to advertisers. As things stand now, the demographics of a site like NYTimes.com are almost certainly far less desirable than those of the same newspaper's print edition. And demographics are all that a general news site has to offer, since a relatively small percentage of a news site's coverage is devoted to topics that attract high-paying niche advertisers.


 4:50 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Instead, intermediaries could provide access to a range of publications.

Sounds like what adult sites have been doing for years..lol..not that I know I just read about it!

There will always be a free alternative if I am looking for a topic.. Heck I learn more here than I ever have from a newspaper site.

I run a social network for my small hometown and we have our own member submitted news.. Right now we are 1 place BELOW our local news website in Google listings.. So I say LET THEM do this (trickle down) it only helps the little guy in my case.


 5:05 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you Murdoch, now the small and midsize bloggers and news sites will get some extra traffic and ad revenues. Looking forward.

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