The Democracy Papers
Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. The Democracy Papers explores how to preserve professional journalism in the face of technology transformation and changing economic pressures. Though the project focuses mostly on newspapers, the essays and opinions touch on the range of challenges facing the press.
Murdoch's play for pay
Posted by Ryan Blethen
David Carr latest "Media Equation" column looks at Rupert Murdoch's recent statement that News Corp. will charge readers for all its news Web sites. I plan on watching Murdoch navigate his attempt to gain revenue from people not accustomed or trained to pay for something that has been given away for free. It might work depending on how he goes about it. Or it could be a colossal failure that drives away readers.
The Wall Street Journal, a Murdoch paper, and The Financial Times already charge for some content but don't block off their entire sites. It is assumed that this partial charging is what the other News Corp. sites will do. Carr rightly points out that the WSJ and Financial Times, not a Murdoch paper, are very different than a general interest newspaper.
The problem, both for Mr. Murdoch and the industry at large, is that it's dangerous to generalize the success of The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times with paid subscriptions on the Web to other media properties. Those newspapers contain useful data, with a network of alerts and specialized features that make them extremely valuable to people who need up-to-the-minute information to do business.
While I am a sucker for a Page Six item revealing that Paris Hilton has achieved detente with a former frenemy, I'm not about to pay for that information. Much of the news that News Corporation produces is already a commodity by the time it hits the Web.
What will be interesting to watch is how Murdoch's smaller newspapers do. I don't think he will be the last publisher to try and charge for online content in some fashion.
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