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News Corp Will Charge For Newspaper Websites

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the probably-not-for-fox-news dept.

The Media 453

suraj.sun writes "Rupert Murdoch says having free newspaper websites is a 'flawed' business model. 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."

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I call (-1, Redundant)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860157)

shenanigans as well as first post.

the sad thing is (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860179)

The sad thing is that the right-wing Fox lovers will gladly pay up, and not even realize that they're being utterly fleeced to get "the truth". I guess that's the price to pay to have an echo chamber.

Re:the sad thing is (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860509)

Um.... sure they will. Hate t break this to you, but regardless of party affiliation, folks are like you and me.... cheap. If one source of news is free and another isn't, folks will flock to the free.

Re:the sad thing is (3, Interesting)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861213)

If one source of news is free and another isn't, folks will flock to the free.

... regardless of how 'crap' the news source is, really. Today's news agency's content is a good example. Tomorrow regular Joes may be reading stuff from blogs.

Re:the sad thing is (4, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860567)

I am "right wing" and do not pay for news. I will go where the information is free and there will always be an unbiased source of free news.

Re:the sad thing is (-1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860581)

I can't believe you were marked troll. I'm using "echo chamber" from now on...brilliant!

Re:the sad thing is (3, Insightful)

warsql (878659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860929)

I'm guessing the troll mod is for implying that the right has a monopoly on an echo chamber news source desires. It is intellectually dishonest to deny that human nature and crosses party lines and ideologies.

Another smart move from the movers and shakers.... (5, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860187)

Rupert Murdoch says having free newspaper websites is a 'flawed' business model. 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.

On the other hand, everytbody knows that charging for something that everyone else provides for free is a winning strategy.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (3, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860259)

Well, he does cite the Wall Street Journal, I'm not sure how "booming" they actually are but he at least has an example to back up this move.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Insightful)

BabyDuckHat (1503839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860585)

Well, the Wall Street Journal is a good paper though, read by people who have money to spend.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860849)

Agreed, I'm not right-wing or into big money but the difference between the 'journal and, say, Newsweek or FoxNews is like the difference between GQ/Esquire and Maxim.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861159)

Yet I'm sure that Maxim sells more copies than GQ or Equire. Same reason you see 70 different tabloids. The masses buy this trash, and the companies make money.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860591)

The Wall Street Journal isn't your typical newspaper, it's very nearly a technical journal that is required reading for people of a certain profession. The Journal doesn't report the same news that every other paper does, and it doesn't just rely on AP and Reuters feeds to do the work for them, it actually offers things that are nearly unique in the news industry. That, and only that, is why they can get away with a pay wall.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (4, Interesting)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861009)

Some of the same things can be said of the New York Times. And if you've read the WSJ lately, it has been diluted with entertainment news, sports news(this is not to denigrate sports, just to show that the WSJ is becoming just like other papers), and all the other things that make it par for the course for a Murdoch publication.

No, something else besides level of technicality needs to explain why people are willing to pay for the WSJ.

Here's a possibility: as another reader pointed out, you are allowed to access WSJ's premium content if you have been referred from another site. So what you are really paying for is the indexing of content at the WSJ site, and the ability to read the content which you can otherwise get for free the same way you would read a newspaper.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (2, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861205)

The D section of the WSJ still has original stories. Becky Quick who is now on CNBC used to write there some years back. all her stories were orginal and not AP reprints

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861083)

Yep, people do not turn to the WSJ to read George Will's willfully ignorant opinion column. But I can think of no better way to moderate Murdoch's influence than to put a pay wall in front of his newspapers. One can only hope he will also make FOX news a pay-per-view channel.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Interesting)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860621)

The question is what the Wall Street Journal provides that people are paying for. Mr. Murdoch seems to think that people are paying for access to the general newspaper sections that are shared with other papers - global news, national news, op-eds. I strongly suspect that he is wrong, that subscribers are paying primarily for the financial news. If I am right, then this model cannot be easily expanded to other newspapers.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Funny)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860275)

What does Murdoch know about making money, anyway?

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Interesting)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860409)

What does Murdoch know about making money, anyway?

I don't know. But I know this: it sets off alarm bells ringing when somebody claims that a business model which has been evolving for nearly two decades is 'malfunctioning' just because it's not working in precisely the way in which they personally want it to work.

Believing that the universe revolves around you may be a useful trait for someone determined to push their agenda onto the world, and make money whilst doing so. But I don't think for a second that makes those people right - just powerful.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860725)

(Most) Online newspapers aren't making money. That is malfunctioning in the minds of most 'business' people.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

jadavis (473492) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860923)

claims that a business model which has been evolving for nearly two decades is 'malfunctioning'

A lot of papers that have been around for a long time are either going bankrupt or close to it (losing money fast). That leads me to believe there is some kind of malfunction somewhere.

I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying the newspaper business is doing just fine?

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861119)

What business model? Newspapers pay out the ass to create content, put it online for free, hemorrhage subscribers, and go broke? It's very Web 2.0, I'll give you that.

I think he's right. They're not gaining enough from putting it online for free to justify continuing the experiment. Our (I work for a newspaper) own numbers are still going up, but they're not going up enough...The online revenue isn't going to stabilize at a level that's high enough to allow the business to continue.

I've been harping on flipping the pay model for a while: right now a lot of papers charge for archival data...Stuff that's old, and has a very limited earnings potential...And give away the current stuff for free. If you flip that, and charge for anything in depth for the last 14 days(or so), and then release everything older than that for free, you keep your internet revenue stream, while still driving a viable pay product.

Murdoch and money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860703)

He's pretty shrewd actually, and this plan of his might just work. His target audience could easily be happy to pay for something that others get for free.

Think about his audience. They are constantly being told that Murdoch outlets are the elite, and everything else is worthless. They are generally conservative, so they're already skeptical of anything that doesn't generate immediate profits. Combine these factors and you get a group of people eager to open their purse strings for the illusion of quality.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860937)

Quite a bit...in the 20th century.

The P0rn option... (3, Interesting)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860327)

On the other hand, there are pay services for porn. Where quality and quantity is enough, a pay service is doable. Probably newspapers are near the quality and quantity needed to make it feasible. And with quantity, I mean how often you need the service. No one in the right mind will pay for a online encyclopedia, with the better one free. But for daily news, and porn, maybe.

Re:The P0rn option... (3, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860427)

I was thinking exactly this as well.

For the consumer that only wants a sixty second clip, there exists a free option.

For the consumer who wants more content, there exists a place to input the credit card number.

Newspapers could well do the same. Blurb is free, full story (and access to the discussion) requires subscription.

Re:The P0rn option... (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860689)

Blurb is free; copying the title into a google bar and clicking on the first free result is also free.

Re:The P0rn option... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860805)

Some customers are loyal and stay with particular sites over others. (e.g. digg v slashdot)

Some customers don't care what the url is at the top of the screen.

I'm imagining the latter is a non-issue when it comes to the mindset of the individual website operator.

Again, don't discount the discussion and other frills. Facts about the event are one thing, but the angle is where most of the positive feedback for reading the article usually lies.

Re:The P0rn option... (4, Insightful)

eam (192101) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860739)

They need something akin to the news stand price. Free access to headlines & summaries, or you could pay $0.99 to for 24 hour access to all articles.

If I see an article I want to read, I'm not likely to shell out $19.99 for a subscription so I can read the rest of the article. However, I might pay $0.99 to read it. If I find myself doing that regularly, I'd switch to a subscription.

Re:The P0rn option... (3, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860861)

Yes. And even a $.99/month option would probably net more income than ad revenue alone would...

Re:The P0rn option... (2, Funny)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860677)

You had me at "porn" and "doable".

Re:The P0rn option... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860751)

"But for up to the minute news, and porn, maybe."

There, I fixed it for you, but something still doesn't look quite right ...

Re:The P0rn option... (2, Informative)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861095)

Wikipedia started out as total crap.

Britannica was brilliant.

So how do you explain the shift from one to the other?

People are satisfied with the FREE version if they perceive it as a) X% as good as the non-free alternative (feel free to insert whatever percentage you think is correct) and b) more convenient.

EVEN if Britannica had been free, but required registration and log in to access, I believe people would have moved to Wikipedia because it was MORE convenient.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (2, Insightful)

slodan (1134883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860537)

While I am not a subscriber, I think people are willing to pay for the Wall Street Journal for their longer, feature-style articles. The WSJ tends to provide perspective, highlight trends, and point out emerging behavior. I'm not sure that this model applies to general news. Content tends to be similar or even identical (e.g. how 90% of all news comes straight from the AP feed). People are unlikely to pay for a story when they can get a nearly identical story elsewhere for free.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860777)

If the pressure to justify charging for their content causes them to create better content, then that's a good thing.

Better reporting, digging, analysis, etc would certainly be a good thing for society. Someone has to pay for that - perhaps Murdoch can convince web readers to pay.

Perhaps Murdoch can even encourage somone to come up with a viable micropayments system (Paypal?) to support payment for news content and other valuable content.

Of course the other way to go would be downmarket; more sleaze, more hype, more celebrity. I hope Murdoch doesn't find that to be the most profitable road.

At some level, we get what we pay for. If we can get better newspapers by charging for better online news, and a better job of holding the state to account, then that is excellent news.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860801)

It only took one to start the "free" ball rolling. It'll take more to turn it around, but this is a huge start.

Newspapers are having money problems, but it's not because no one reads: more people read than ever before. It's because they're giving away their content. They simply can't afford to keep doing that...The money they make (from ads) by putting it up for free is tiny in comparison to what they make from their pay product.

I've been predicting that the pay model would come back for a while. I'm not surprised it has.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860879)

How the hell is this offtopic? If you're going to mod me down because you disagree:

1) Go to hell
2) At least mod down for 'troll'.

Offtopic, when I'm discussing the fucking issue at stake? You do realise there's no way that can look right?

Hell, if Murdoch actually has that much influence, maybe he can make it work after all.

Re:Another smart move from the movers and shakers. (1, Insightful)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861129)

You're wasting your breath! They've modded and gone - and they'll never look at this page again.

Competition is not always good. (5, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860951)

What is destroying the newspapers is competition. Before the age of the Internet, the typical newspaper was a monopoly and enjoyed monopoly profits. For example, the city of Boston had only 1 major paper: the "Boston Globe". If you wanted insightful reports and commentary about the agreement signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, you must buy a copy of the "Boston Globe". The newspaper was the only game in town. (You could go to the library to read competing newspapers, but going to the library just to read newspapers is a hassle.)

Today, a citizen of Boston can use the Internet to read news from a variety of sources: "New York Times", "The Washington Post", "San Francisco Chronicle", etc. He is not forced to buy only today's editon of the "Boston Globe".

Just as any standard economics textbook states, if you destroy the monopoly by introducing competiton, monopoly profits also disappear. So, the "Boston Globe" is bleeding money.

Yet, is this competiton good? Maybe not.

Monopoly profits enable a newspaper to fund long-term investigations for stories that benefit society. For example, Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein spent months in investigating the "Watergate" scandal. That investigation cost money.

In much the same way, the monopoly profts of the old AT&T, a telephone monopoly, funded breakthrough research at Bell Laboratories. It gave us the transistor.

A research environment -- for either newspaper-investigative research or scientific research -- is ideal for allowing dedicated individuals the freedom to pursue their interests for the betterment of humankind. Competition -- with its profit-reducing mechanisms -- precludes such an environment.

What can we do? There are 3 options.

1. Go with a Public-Broadcasting Service model. Turn the newspapers into non-profit organizations that hold pledge drives to raise money. The government provides matching funds. The government, essentially acts, as the sugar mama. There is 1 potential problem. The government might try to control the news. If the investigative reports by a government-funded "Washington Post" reveal terrible things about a liberal politician, will a liberal-party-dominated government try to reduce funding to the "Washington Post"?

2. Go with an endowment model. A rich philanthropist sets up a non-profit newspaper funded by the interest of a billion-dollar endowment. The salaries of the entire staff is paid by that endowment. In this model, the newspaper is free of external meddling.

3. Go with a public-service model in which a major non-profit organization (e. g., a university or a church) maintains a newspaper division. The best example of this model is the Christian Science Monitor.

I think that choice #2 is best.

Regardless of which model is best, we must continue to have newspapers in our society. Newspapers are the bulk of the 4th branch of government. They are our eyes and ears in keeping us informed about our government. An uninformed electorate is the first step toward creating an authoritarian society.

More Daily Show Fodder. (2, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860189)

Anyone who has been watching/reading news corp material and comparing it to on the ground reality or watching the daily show at the same time know murdoch and his henchmen are losing grip with reality and receding into delusion.

I look forward to him slowly losing his grip over news media by shutting out the majority of online readers.

Re:More Daily Show Fodder. (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860807)

Anyone who has been watching/reading news corp material and comparing it to on the ground reality or watching the daily show at the same time know murdoch and his henchmen are losing grip with reality and receding into delusion.

You're getting your news from a comedy show and you're concerned about Murdoch's grip on reality?

Re:More Daily Show Fodder. (2, Insightful)

GreatSunJester (1386543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860903)

Because, by god, "the Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" tell it like it really is and are the true source of news.....

Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860203)

This list shamelessly ripped from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
  • The Sun
  • News of the World
  • The Times
  • Sunday Times
  • The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
  • The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney)
  • The Australian (national)
  • The Advertiser and Sunday Mail (Adelaide)
  • The Sunday Times (Perth)
  • Herald Sun (Melbourne)
  • Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne)
  • mX (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)
  • The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)
  • Geelong Advertiser
  • Gold Coast Bulletin
  • The Mercury and Sunday Tasmanian (Hobart)
  • Northern Territory News (Darwin)
  • The Sunday Territorian (Darwin)
  • Sunday Star-Times
  • Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
  • The Fiji Times
  • New York Post
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Times Herald Record

Also, Murdoch, please be sure to notify Google that you don't want their help [slashdot.org] in gaining readership. I would also like to hear how you explain MySpace's massive success ... you only host that for free because it's user created content? You can't afford a staff with the money these sites bring in?

Good luck, you're going to need it. I would claim a move that reduces readership in any way is a bold move by any news source.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (2, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860353)

* The Sun
        * News of the World
        * The Times
        * Sunday Times
        * The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
        * The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney)
        * The Australian (national)
        * The Advertiser and Sunday Mail (Adelaide)
        * The Sunday Times (Perth)
        * Herald Sun (Melbourne)
        * Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne)
        * mX (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)
        * The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)
        * Geelong Advertiser
        * Gold Coast Bulletin
        * The Mercury and Sunday Tasmanian (Hobart)
        * Northern Territory News (Darwin)
        * The Sunday Territorian (Darwin)
        * Sunday Star-Times
        * Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
        * The Fiji Times
        * New York Post
        * The Wall Street Journal
        * Times Herald Record

And nothing of value was lost.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861229)

And nothing of value was lost.

As much as i hate Murdoch's shit rags, i have to disagree. The Australian stands out from among all the other rubbish as an uncharacteristically good paper - and there is no non-Murdoch equivalent. I wouldn't buy it myself, if i could get the Sydney Morning Herald, but it's certainly got some value.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860515)

If we get really lucky, he'll start charging for foxnews.com too.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27861101)

If we get really lucky, he'll start charging for foxnews.com too.

Looks like someone read the summary dept.:

Posted by CmdrTaco 2009.05.07 10:55
from the probably-not-for-fox-news dept.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For Myspace (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860669)

I would also like to hear how you explain MySpace's massive success

What massive success? Myspace made about $75 million per quarter at peak. Their traffic peaked in Q1 2008, and is down 30% since then. Facebook passed them in April 2008 and now has 3x their traffic. Myspace never made enough of a blip in News Corp. earnings to show up as a line item.

Social networking sites have a life cycle like nightclubs, and it's short. They start, if they're lucky they become cool, they grow, the losers move in, the cool people move out, and they decline. Has-been social networking sites include AOL, Geocities, EZboard, Nerve, Friendster, Orkut, and Tribe. Social networking sites have to be valued like movies - they have to make money over their run. They're not ongoing businesses. There's a long tail of trickling revenue after the peak, as with ongoing sales of DVDs of old movies. But the big money comes early if at all.

That's problem #1 with social networking sites. Problem #2 is that the demographic is terrible from an advertiser perspective. Remember, half of all clicks come from 20% of users, and that 20% buys almost nothing. That 20% of users is Myspace's demographic.

Myspace revenue comes mostly from their Google ads. Think about that for a moment. Myspace is a big site run by a bigger publisher with sizable ad-selling operations. Yet they're running Google ads, from which Google makes most of the money. If Murdoch could make online pay, they'd be selling their own ad space. The advertisers on Myspace are mostly either bottom-feeders (links to pages with more ads and similar junk) or small advertisers who haven't figured out how to opt out of having their ad appear there.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860883)

How is MySpace a massive success? It doesn't make any fricking MONEY.

It's not about readership. A zillion readers who don't pay is still useless. Ad revenue, especially internet ad revenue, just doesn't cut it.

What you should be worried about as a consumer of free media is what happens when the New York Times, LA Time, Washington Post, and all the other top-tier papers follow suit? They are dying to do so, I assure you.

Re:Well It's a Long Painful Death For ... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861137)

The New York Post must be one of the worst designed websites on the Internet. It melts your eyes. I, for one, would certainly be willing to pay to avoid it.

Other than Joel Sherman, there's not one single thing in the NYPost that can't be found on hundreds of blogs.

I'll pay... (2, Insightful)

Centurix (249778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860207)

If the content is interesting. I guess there's something "flawed" in Bob's business model as well.

Regina Leader-Post (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860913)

Regina Leader-Post runs a hybrid model. They have a single front page of interesting stories with links, though rarely the "real" front page article from the print paper. For a monthly fee, you can subscribe to the electronic edition of the full newspaper, which many people do (it's cheaper than the print version, of course.)

Good luck with that (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860215)

Meanwhile, I will read whatever is free on my RSS reader that sources over 1000 free sources. I will download them unto my e-paper reader using calibre [kovidgoyal.net] and you will never see a red cent from me again.

Re:Good luck with that (0, Flamebait)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860559)

and you will never see a red cent from me again.

Right, like you are paying them anything now.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860941)

I used to get a newspaper every now and than. Now I only get them to help light logs on fire.

Flawed comparison? (5, Interesting)

silver007 (1479955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860225)

I can see people paying for a sub to the WSJ, but not some daily news site. People make a living off WSJ info, not so many off whether or not the swine flu spread to the depths of South Alabama overnight... Surely this genius' comment was taken out of context. I mean he's a 'mogul'... surely he knows better... surely, Shirley.

The ONline WSJ always charged for content. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860609)

The WSJ has always charged for most of their content. See those "keys" by most of the articles? You have to be a paid online subscriber to see those. And they have always made money doing that.

Great (-1, Troll)

shma (863063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860227)

The less people that read their "news", the better.

It's all flawed (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860229)

As Clay Shirky argued [shirky.com] , the newspaper itself is somewhat misplaced in an era where it is nearly free to copy and distribute information. What's the point of arguing over whether your pig ought to be pink or brown - it still won't fly.

Can't wait to see... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860231)

..him getting the great unwashed hordes to pay for The Sun [wikipedia.org] webshite.

Especially since it doesn't have the one advantage of the print version, which is that you can wipe your backside with that Murdoch POS rag.

Well... (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860253)

As we all know the Wall Street Journal has been succesful in charging for content, heck even I have a subscription there.

The real trick there would be if they can pull together unique and novel content, and not just another AP feed in order to get a good online newspapaer. If WSJ can do it, there is plenty of reason to believe others can too.

Frankly I see a lot of newspapers doing this in the future. My hometown paper, the Loveland Reporter Herald is a good candidate for this. They do fairly decent local journalism and editorial IMO in their paper newspaper and the online paper is free. I one day forsee the print edition stopping and me paying aroudn $50/year for the online content instead (which I would pay).

But these are my opinions, YMMV.

Re:Well... (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860589)

As we all know the Wall Street Journal has been succesful in charging for content

But people (at least ostensibly) use the WSJ to make money. So it can be considered a sort of investment. There is no way I'm going to pay any amount of money to let Rupert Murdoch and his cronies tell me what to think, and I think a lot of people feel the same. It's just not important enough to me.

Re:Well... (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860743)

I agree - local papers are the ones most likely to benefit from this approach. Most peoples' hometown news just doesn't merit coverage by the BBC or Washington Post or whatever. The smallest towns might not make quite enough for this - I figure you'd need an electronic subscriber base around 10,000 at $50/year to make it really viable. As more people go online, that's a target easier to reach for more small towns.

Best of luck with that. (2, Insightful)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860267)

Its going to be said hundreds of times in this thread, but I'll say it anyway.

Nobody will pay for content that used to be free.

I'll miss WSJ.com but I'll get over it.

Re:Best of luck with that. (3, Insightful)

pyite (140350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860615)

I'll miss WSJ.com but I'll get over it.

Except that WSJ is the model he's basing this on. They offer some content for free, but many of us pay for full content. This is in direct contrast to what Murdoch originally planned [informationweek.com] which was to make wsj.com fully ad supported. Murdoch has pulled a full 180 and I think he's made the right decision.

Re:Best of luck with that. (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860823)

Nobody will pay for content that used to be free.

Says [amazon.com] who? [wikipedia.org]

Do it Rupert. Now. (1, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860269)

Please put your content behind a pay-wall so that it stops inadvertently polluting the rest of the newspool.

Re:Do it Rupert. Now. (1)

silver007 (1479955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860313)

This could be a good social grouping device. "Would all those that think they have to pay for free stuff please form a line here... the rest of us will carry on our merry way."

Screw them (5, Informative)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860279)

WSJ gives free access to premium content if you are being redirected from google, facebook, digg etc. Here is a dirty little secret. The entire content on WSJ is available to you for free, if you can trick WSJ into believing that you have been directed to their webpage via digg.com!

Step1) Use firefox
Step2) Install refspoof http://refspoof.mozdev.org/ [mozdev.org]
Step3) Install greasemonkey https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748 [mozilla.org]
Step4) Install this script in greasemonkey http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/42134 [userscripts.org]
Step5) Profit!!

Re:Screw them (5, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860523)

If you don't want to install that stuff, and you come upon WSJ articles infrequently then there is another trick:
1. Click on the regular "for-pay" link.
2. When you get to the irritating half-article thing, just cut the link from the toolbar.
3. Paste it into a google search.
4. Click on the first link that comes up and read the whole article.

The WSJ is unique and non-substitutable. (3, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860287)

The WSJ's content is as "newspaper of record" for financial items. Which means its unique.

Additionally, how many of those "online" subscribers are dead-tree subscribers?

For most other news, news outlets are substitutable. If you are a substitutable item, but you charge and your competition doesn't, you're out of luck.

I second this (4, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860373)

WSJ is an outstanding newspaper. Its news articles are unique and important and interesting. New York Post, not so much.

But I would also bet that a lot of success the WSJ has had online has to do with a lot of business expense accounts paying for it.

Re:The WSJ is unique and non-substitutable. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860889)

The WSJ is very much replaceable. I stopped my subscription a few months after the paper was acquired by ole Rupert. It was that bad. More politics, less financial, and more sensationalism.

I'm quite happy with my pick of FT (a superior paper). As they report news rather than spin it.

Thomson/Reuters and Bloomberg also make fine substitutes.

Re:The WSJ is unique and non-substitutable. (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861031)

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post have large international readerships. For many people, paying for an on-line subscription is both faster than waiting for the mail, and much cheaper, as fast international delivery of heavy newspapers costs a great deal of money.

The English language international "biggies" are probably the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the L.A. Times, the Jerusalem Post, and the Times (out of London, England). After this list is exhausted, there are not many papers with large international readerships. After this list is exhausted, there are not many other newspapers with a significant customer base willing to pay for delivery.

I just cannot see how a small market daily paper can charge for web viewing. My local daily has so few local articles that it isn't worth reading. I just skip the business section, because I have already read better articles on-line the previous day. The paper with better local content is my local weekly paper, and it is free.

The big papers need to figure out a way to pay for and finance local news. Local TV needs to find a way to finance local news. In general, a better business model is needed for local issues. Nevertheless, watching local readership nosedive by making local newspapers on-line subscription-only sites is not the correct model.

Hows that working as long as there is free ones (1)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860311)

As long as there is one free quality source for news, most people won't sign up.

Or, to turn that statement around, the quality of the reporting would have to be a class or two above the free source for me to be willing to pay for it. Which may be why it worked for the Wall Street Journal.

But then again, quality reporting is what News Corp is all about.

Go right ahead (1, Informative)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860347)

Please, oh please do so, Mr Murdoch. Because I really want as much of your business as possible to fail.

OMG, that is like so unfair (1)

cornicefire (610241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860351)

I'm an Internet user. I'm entitled to EVERYTHING FOR FREE!!!!! I'm sorry. I wish that ad revenue could support the news business, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. The Internet has lead to a proliferation of advertising opportunities and it's all supply and demand. Companies like Facebook are going to be able to clean the clocks of major newspapers because Facebook users create the content for free and don't need any share of the ad revenue. Newspapers have to pay the salaries of reporters. So if professional writers can't compete in the ad biz, they need to charge for their work. I'm not happy about paying, but I would rather pay than go without professional news. I'll still love the bloggers, but there are somethings that require some professional staff.

Choice is key (3, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860385)

I happily pay for quality publications, broadsheets, the Economist, etc. I am also attracted to publications where jounalistic integrity is promoted and someones job is on the line when inaccuracies emerge. So, for me at least, it seems trivial to switch from printed to electronic content. However, I do not like subscribing - I like to browse and purchase magazines/newspapers that appeal to what I'm interested in at the time and what they might be covering - I occasionally buy publications that are far from where I am philosophically just to see what the other guys are saying. My worry is that proprietary formats will reduce choice and investing in whatever gadget electronic media is piped through will effectively coral me into just one segment of the news circus. So to attract customers like me they'll have to come up with an open format and one that offers me the same selection as a decent newspaper shop.

Charging CAN work for the right content (4, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860473)

People are willing to pay for content in certain areas, particularly finance sources such as the WSJ or Economist, for three reasons... (1) such sources are based on a lot of exclusive research, and so much of their information can't easily be found elsewhere. (2) the nature of finance makes it worthwhile... if you're trading thousands to millions of dollars in securities or bonds, dropping $2 a week on useful information is awfully cost-effective. (3) the target market is pretty affluent and highbrow and thus less likely to blink over this sort of thing (the fact that you're not giving it away for free actually makes it look more prestigious and attractive).

However, these considerations fall apart when you turn to non-niche mainstream news. Looking at the "free" content aggregated by Google News... it's about 50% celebrity gossip, and 50% partisan political bickering with no insightful analysis behind anything. Thanks but no thanks... I'm not paying for any of that, and I doubt many others would either.

THAT is the main problem with newspapers' business models in the current climate. They are trying to compete with online sources by racing to the bottom, and dumbing down their content in hopes of reaching a wider audience. However, their main competitive advantage is in the highbrow market... which is increasingly alienated by this dumbing-down. Produce exclusive highbrow content that can't easily be found elsewhere, and you'll absolutely be in a position to charge. Write endlessly about Anna Nicole's "baby-daddy" and Britney Spears' breakdowns, and you shouldn't expect any revenue beyond advertising because you can find that trash anywhere.

Do you provide anything unique? (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860495)

If so people will pay for it. If you are just regurgitating AP and/or Reuters people will not. The Wall Street Journal and The Economist provide something unique, and have been successful with subscriptions (the fact that they cater to moneyed-folk helps too). To a lesser extent the New York Post and Christian Science Monitor provide unique information and may have luck transitioning to a subscription model.

As for the rest of the newpapers that News Corporation owns, yeah I don't think so. Some of the ones that I'm not familiar with may have sufficient unique content, but most of them don't look like it. Good luck making The Sun subscription only. The online portion of that magazine thrives on ignorant (or amused) blog linking, and would loose nearly all of it's traffic if it went subscription only.

Re:Do you provide anything unique? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860985)

So, if Gannett and McClatchy and some of the other big boys follow suit, you don't think that's going to cause massive problems for free aggregator sites?

This is a big deal. No one in the industry is making any money, the vast majority of papers are controlled by big corporations that absolutely can make this sort of decision arbitrarily. If News corp doesn't show a massive drop in profits (and they won't, since the online revenue is shit) then others will follow their lead.

Market for your product. (1)

IP_Troll (1097511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860527)

The reason that the wall street journal is able to charge for access to its website is that it comes up with quality articles based on independent reporting that people are willing to pay for.

With articles like Dont tax bigger boobs during crunch [thesun.co.uk] The sun is Murdoch's only hope to achieve a business model similar to that of the Wall Street Journal.

What do they have to lose? (2, Insightful)

orin (113079) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860549)

Increasingly web users are blocking advertising content using tools like ad-block. This trend will only continue. As a content producer you have little to lose by switching to a pay model. What do you have to gain by giving your content away for free (with advertisements on the page) when increasing numbers of people visiting your site use software to block the very things that bring your site revenue? Most people, if they were aware of the option of blocking all advertisements on the Internet, would take it. How do you cover the costs of generating and serving your content if it gets to the stage where the majority of people block advertisements and aren't willing to pay a subscription fee?

It can work (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860553)

A subscription model can work. If it wasn't workable, how come people pay for newspapers, when you can get free ones? The content is what sells subscriptions. And how many of you read online news? Again, the WSJ proved it can work, you just have to develop a model where it's painless to subscribe, but that you pay regardless of whether you use it or not. Obviously the free model isn't cutting it

Well (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860575)

People do pay to watch fox news. They're willing to pay something that will reenforce their own views. Murdocks paper are hardly "fair and balanced". Good riddance.

Re:Well (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861105)

Murdocks paper are hardly "fair and balanced".

I read the Early Bird, a daily clipping service published on the web by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (sorry no link - you must be a DoD employee to log-in). Just reading the list of titles of the day's stories published by the likes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, it quickly becomes evident where their sympathies lie.

None of the media are free of bias - it's up to the individual reader to choose his own poison.

Give me a PDF, iphone app, etc. (4, Interesting)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860587)

I'm totally fine paying for an electronic paper. For many sitting down at the breakfast table with your paper, reading it on the train, or having it next to the toilet is great. I'm going to miss some of the things the physical paper can bring.

I like to linking to stories and all, but sometimes I want the real deal and even with 3G I'd still like a properly formated thing without stupid flash ads off to the side. A decent app for my cell phone or something like the kindle would be great.

I'd be happy to pay 5 bucks a month for the a paper in some electronic form. And yes it'll be pirated to all hell, but even though a lot on here won't believe me...some people actually like to pay for things...the whole keeping the system moving forward....some of us did grow up after all.

News Corp Will Attempt to Charge For Websites (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860605)

Everyone is going to give as example the WSJ or Financial Times. These are not consumer oriented newspapers. At least in the US they can be a tax write off, which the clever person will use to minimize the taxable profit, and perhaps even lower the tax bracket. This is the same as the Hummer. It might cost $800K, but the taxpayer probably has covered well over 50% of the cost, making it cheaper than a top of the line Toyota.

This is much more akin to the average car, which people are not buying in droves. In this in an environment where it is no longer possible to drain a house of equity to subsidize the life style, cars appear to sell for significantly less than they did 5 years ago. It has nothing to do with the value of a car or newspaper, simply the value of a dollar with has, due to the relative lack availability, or the perception of the lack of availability, to the common person has made the perceived value increase. This means that to get peoples money, you have to offer something extra.

In the US it looks like the only newspaper that will be affected is the New York Post. I don't many people paying if the NYT is still free. The other option is the Sun, which may rely on how much people will pay for page 3.

Rupert is doing some good. (1)

TheLeopardsAreComing (1206632) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860705)

I see many comments about charging for a service that is already free... like he said: "he strives to fix a 'malfunctioning' business model". After all they are businesses like any other, and ad space doesn't always make ends meet these days. I would love to have a free newspaper to read in the morning, but not at the cost of thousands of peoples jobs.

So... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860781)

People will use adblock so sites can't get advertising revenue.

Donations are only effective for big, high profile sites and even then are only an option if most of your writers don't want a good wage. If someone donates, they donate once and that tends to be it for life.

People don't want subscription models.

People aren't going to walk around in Fox News T-shirts or visit Fox news land theme parks.

I get a 'TV Licence' form of government funding would go down like a lead balloon in the US.

I read lots of people blaming content providers for using 'outdated' models but isn't it the case that, there are no financial models where users can visit websites at no cost to them (in any form) whilst still paying for the running of the site and the staff. The smartest people in media throughout the world haven't come up with a model that would satisfy the average slashdot poster.

The fact is, if you want quality investigative reporting and editorial content, it has to be paid for in some form. You cannot and should not demand charity.

You must be sh**ting me (1)

dilute (74234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860793)

Who is going to PAY to read the NY Post online???

Washington Post does great (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860799)

Rupert Murdoch says having free newspaper websites is a 'flawed' business model

Shhhh! Nobody tell The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] , which reaches 1.3 million people [washingtonpostads.com] in the DC area alone.

When Web Advertising's At An All-Time High? (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860857)

I mean, come on. Web ads and rates are far outstripping "old" media, and now he wants to use an "old" media business model?

Kinda puts an interesting slant to the term "Crazy like a Fox"...

But TV news is still free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27860905)

Is he also going to start charging for news delivered on tv? I hope so. Why should news delivered over the web be more costly than news delivered over the air?

Here is a viable chargeable newspaper model. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27860961)

1. ZERO graphic ads. You want ads? OK use text only, one color (not the same as the news articles), font SMALLER than the news articles. NO sound. No movement. Think Google search.

2. Totally customizable as to sections. We select what we see where. If we want the comics on the front page, we get that. This also means real categorizing, including the ability to eliminate 'soft' news crap like "the president bought a burger with the VP. If I want to waste my time reading junk I can go to FARK.

3. Also, any real political story should be done three times - once conservative, once liberal, once approved by both writers. No, Alan Colmes is NOT a liberal. If the liberal is consistently losing, get a better liberal. Once yo do that, WE select which of the three writeups we want to see.

4. The price to read? $1 to buy a week, or $30 to buy a year. Yeah, the fact that you aren't paying for printing, middleman, or delivery DOES mean we get it cheaper. Yes the fact that you get our money for the entire year DOES mean we get a discount.

5. Include video links, but only of news and all videos have a transcript that we can read instead of watch.

EdWeek/Teacher Mag = epic fail paywall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27861045)

Education Week / Teacher Magazine is an epic fail of a paywall. Their stores are 90+% AP articles. They show you the first paragraph and demand you pay. You highlight the headline, right-click, and "Search Google for..." and get the whole article. Unless there's something beyond wire articles in newspapers, or the entire news industry goes behind a paywall, this won't work very well.

Media titan Rupert Murdoch once said (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861053)

"God this is brilliant...what's the difference between a fridge and poofter?"

"Well, when you pull the meat out of the fridge, it doesn't fart!" tit [gawker.com]

"Sun publisher News International calls the topless girls "fun family, content [guardian.co.uk] ""

"Flawed" Business Model? (1)

DownWithMedia1.0 (1547249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861099)

I am surprised at Murdoch. Not that he is charging, but claiming that free web news is a "flawed" business model. In fact, its brilliant. The newspaper makes money on advertising, and the demand skyrockets because the product is free. Only the internet made this possible. Im not sure how much money print papers made off of purchases anyway. I thought that always covered distribution costs. Anyway ... it is quite unlikely anyone will ever pay for news again. Business folks subscribe to the journal on their employer's dime so they can get technical information. Average news consumers wont do the same. Murdoch should read Benkler. Benkler will school him.

Great... (2, Interesting)

mmaniaci (1200061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861151)

Now we'll all start pirating our news because they'll probably set the price too high, then they'll blame the pirates (or anyone but themselves) for their new business model failing, and insist the News Printers Association of America be instated to protect them. And by protect, I mean bash down doors, arrest innocents, and harass the population as a whole, all to protect their profit margin.

And only the lawyers will really benefit from it all.

OMG Something not free on the interwebs (1)

McBeer (714119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27861167)

In a sense free news sites really are a broken business model. How many of you have adblock installed? News sites lose money every time one of you reads a story. With ad blockers becoming more and more prevalent I can see the free model becoming extremely problematic in a few years.

It will be quite difficult for the first websites to transition to some form of micropayment or subscription system as all of their competitors will still be free, but I believe it will ultimately be necessary.
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