Friday, May 8, 2009

Future of Newspapers

Rupert Murdoch, who knows a great deal about making money and publishing is hoping that the 'Internet is malfunctioning' and he'll be able to charge for access to his online news websites. Hmmm the smart money would be with Murdoch, but I can't help thinking he's just plain wrong, deluded by his own disbelief that old media going to change so fundamentally.

The logic goes like this, running a website is expensive and drains money from the 'parent' news organisation. Media companies are currently taking the loss, but this will self correct as it is unsustainable, and then naturally the net will bow to market forces and start to charge for news. That logic is just so flawed, it works for Rupert becuase without his organisation will slowly have to move away from the print he loves, and that's exactly what will happen.

A major reason why newspapers have been so influential is that the barriers to entry were so high, having an opinion, access to contacts and the ability to write was useless unless you had deep pockets to run the presses. As the presses are now irrelevant the way in which we receive news is radically changing, and when everyone can be their own news organisation, even if only for their street, why do we need to pay for content? Especially as big players will continue to provide that content for free in return for our patronage.

My gut feeling is that the majority of internet news will remain free, if The Wall Street Journal does go to a pay model, it will only suceed in the short term. Over time its natural (read older) reader base will diminish, this is a great opportunity for others to jump in - maybe The Guardian which has already shown that it understands new media really well.

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