"rivals who, hypocritically, secretly hope he'll succeed."
What are the opinions in El Reg's offices?
Are we likely to see El Ref behind a paywall if the Times is a resounding success? (That is if it makes more money than it used to)
News International is offering a glimpse of its revamped Times and Sunday Times newspaper sites, before they disappear behind a paywall in four weeks' time. Murdoch's move has been greeted with a lot of angst from people who never pay for anything - the Kumbaya crowd - but also criticism from rivals who, hypocritically, secretly …
Currently you can choose to pay £1 for today's Times articles printed on paper or read them online for nothing. Maybe a lot more people will do the first when they can't do the second. Plus... how does it work for overseas readers, expatriates?
So the phrase that you were driven to use, "disappear behind a paywall", either isn't accurate (people will pay, so the content didn't disappear) or doesn't matter (the real product is paper) - or both.
The catch is if other newspapers and the BBC are still free online and non Murdoch-flavoured. E.g. not telling you who to vote for. But that's how it is now and The Times is still read. So, I suppose, were French newspapers during German occupation in the 1940s...
...most especially since I'm not the slightest bit interested in anything printed, broadcast or available online by the Murdoch organisation, even when it's free, let alone paid for...
The printed versions used to at least come in handy for wrapping fish and chips - can't even say that about online editions.
Mind you, as that goes for the rubbish output of the Desmond stable too, there's not a lot left these days.
You won't pay, you don't currently pay, you didn't buy The Times before it went online. You're not his market and he makes no money from you now and will therefore not lose when you _can't_ view his content for free.
I agree with the notion that the whole thing is about encouraging those who currently read Murdoch's papers (but used to buy them) either cough up or go back to buying them.
In two years time Murdoch can turn around and say "the BBC News and Sport sites are destroying the profitability of our business; please turn them off kthxbye."
(Conveniently forgetting that they never were profitable)
And the rest of the publishing world will leap for joy and dive behind a paywall
Outstanding comment, putting your finger on the nub that El Reg seems to have missed...
This is a no-lose scenario for News International. If they get a decent number of subscribers - well, great. But whether they do or not, in a year or so they'll have numbers to use as ammunition in their war to drive BBC News offline. If they don't get a single subscriber, they can say "See, the BBC makes it impossible to compete". If they have a million subscribers, they can say "See, people will pay for online content, the market can provide it just fine, there's no legitimate public-service reason to offer it for free."
Murdoch's TV channels compete against the BBC TV channels, so why should the BBC News website be taken down if he can't compete.
I'm another of those who doesn't willingly give Murdoch any of my money, but I gave up paying for newspapers a long time ago due to the quality of the journalism. Too much focus on celebrities and opinion (complete with bias) and no enough objective real news.
I liked your article but we have to consider the new context in which Murdoch is doing this (and I'm not a supporter of his by the way). He is clearly focussing on the iPad and other devices which will support a micro-payment model. Previous subscription payment services have faltered because payment wasn't easy. In this new era of 'it's only a quid for this app I'll have it' - click through and it's on your phone bill, people will be naturally more inclined to sign up.
Having said that, the Times has to *really* outshine other (mostly free) outlets in it's offering. On the news-stand you are attracted by a headline, then get hooked into the paper. He'll have to solve that problem somehow.I wouldn't be surprised if we see a free iPad with a year or two year's subscription to the Times in a month's time.
IMHO The BBC is already paid for by the licence subscribers - which covers a pretty hefty % of the population. so as far as I can see it's part of what I have already paid for. - if I can't read the Times online - no big deal - plenty of other news providers out there... if they all go behind a paywall well I'll just have to watch the news on TV or via iplayer etc ...
Murdoch does not OWN the news only one SMALL part of the reporting service...
After The Times goes paywall, or to be more accurate: disappears, all that will happen is a lot of web readers (well, actually not that many) will just update their links to point to the Guardian or the Independent (has it gone bust yet?) or possibly even the Telegraph.
After a month everyone will have forgotten about the Times online. By christmas it'll either have quietly dropped the website entirely, be giving away vouchers in the newsprint edition to visit the site gratis, or be running "special offers ... this week only .... read the Times online for free".
What will we learn from that exercise in carefully aiming at your own foot and then pulling the trigger? Only what we already know, that web-users are a bunch of cheapskates for whom the difference between £0.00 and £0.01 is infinite. We will also be reminded that being forced to sit in front of a screen to read pixels is no substitute for being able to sit at the breakfast table, or on the train and use the paper as a barrier against the outside world.
Plus, you can't swat flies with an online edition.
Yes, I hate Murdoch. No, I wouldn't pay for his papers. Yes, I think the price is too high. On the other hand, would I pay 5p per Guardian article or a few quid a month? Maybe. So I'm no hardcore freetard.
The point is, as you mention, that The Times (or the Independent or Guardian) have never made money, online or off. Journalism costs more money than you can sell it for. The greatest journalistic organisation in the world is the BBC, who don't have to worry about profit.
I don't really get why you'd define success as 'making money' in the internet age, because that's not how it was defined before. To many people, success of a newspaper would be better defined as readership, influence, quality and integrity.
If a newspaper is breaking interesting and important stories, is widely read and highly regarded, it's more successful than one that makes a profit but no-one reads. Else Nuts and Zoo would be the high mark of British publishing.
I think the key for the future of news is to use other things to pay for the quality. For the Guardian that means its AutoTrader mothership, which makes a pretty penny. For The Times, that would mean using Sky or the tabloid market to fund something worthwhile further up the chain.
I agree with the Guardian approach - because they're widely read and well-regarded journalistically, and believe that it's wrong to sacrifice readership for profit. Whether it can carry on forever is another matter, but so long as AutoTrader keeps the group afloat I don't see why not.
If newspapers have to turn a profit by themselves, we'll end up with Metro. Bland churnalism with at least 50% of the space given to advertising.
Personally, I don't see it workingh out. True, the Financial Times and the WSJ do well from subs, but they offer content people want to pay for, whereas the Times offers nothing in the least compelling - it's a very dull and average newspaper with absolutely nothing exciting or must-read about either its coverage or its contributors.
How appropriate it will be to see the ad revenues and readership of Murdoch's competition go up after this shift to the paywall scheme? Oh, the irony.
What none of the big media companies want to admit is that people have too many options to maintain the sort of dominance they have in the past. The market has exploded with competition, without any real moves to consolidate. And it's not just newspapers, it's all forms of media competing for viewers. Personally, I don't see how selling news can be profitable unless ads recover (which can't happen while they're losing viewers like a sieve)..
There's also the dynamic introduced by the blogging journalist, which hasn't matched the hype assigned to it as of yet, but which will provide freelancers with opportunities that they didn't really have previously. Competition is a good thing for the market and a bad thing for big companies.
for Murdoch, but then I also don't care about him.
I get my TV via Virginmedia ( yes, I choose to and am very happy ) but I also get every Sky package available.
I've had the Times, Sunday Times, and Times Literary Supplement delivered electronically since back in the day when I had a Handspring Visor PDA and it was a brand new toy.
Why? Do I like the Times?
Not really. It was available and it was free.
I still get it today. I got my mail earlier directing me to the new Times websites and reminding me that I was already registered for early viewing and so I visited. It's nice enough.
I still get my daily newspaper which is the Daily Mirror ( yes, another choice ) because I like my sport and football and it's about the only thing that does not come with a distinct London bias.
I'll continue to pay for my paper.
Will I pay for e-newspapers? No.
What's the point? I dislike Andrew Orlowski's particular brand of 'journalism'. It's too often polluted with his own personal opinions. And he has some strong ones. Very fond of the non word 'freetard' and terms such as 'the kumbaya crowd' he makes it quite clear where he stands upon the issue of "something for nothing".
Nothing will alter the fact that people do want things that they don't have to pay for. Whilst there are places like Reuters there will be news aggregation. News will remain free. I already pay the BBC to give me their news and can watch BBC News 24 online for that payment.
Sure Advertising is not funding online news any longer but in reality it does not have to when most aggregation services are small scale, getting their content for free and their hosting for minimal costs. Advertising just gives them a bonus.
As I said, "will I pay" and the answer remains "No" not now. Not ever. Because I'll not need to.
News is news and will always be there. If newspapers can not fund themselves any longer then they need to realise that there is probably a reason for it. People no longer want them. Journalism is usually someone else's arrogant opinion and frankly I have plenty of those myself without being concerned if someone is being paid enough to voice his. If that makes me a 'freetard' then so be it.
I particularly don't understand
"Sure Advertising is not funding online news any longer but in reality it does not have to when most aggregation services are small scale, getting their content for free and their hosting for minimal costs. Advertising just gives them a bonus."
Who provides the news to the aggregation service? Do pixies make it from thin air?
I'm not willing to pay for Murdoc's offerings, print or electronic, and I hate adds -- but I still realise that my news has to be written by someone, and even if I don't always agree with them they're still doing some work and it is entertaining me.
If El Reg went to subscription they I'd likely pay -- I'm certainly not paying now, I don't even see the adds most of the time, but I think they provide news worth reading and so worth paying for.
"News is news and will always be there. "
I don't know about you, but I'd rather not get all my news from people who don't get paid to write it.
I do pay for news. Where news is information about events that effect ME and people I know. I place a high (-ish) value on that information, depending on what the effect it'll have on me/them actually is.
However, I won't pay to hear about the latest stupidity by footballers, their WAGs, celebrities, politicians, or other assorted non-entities. I won't pay to hear about sports I care nothing for, nor for engaging little "and finally" stories. I also reckon I can live a full and happy life without having to hear about bad things happening in foreign countries that I never intend to visit, tales of political correctness (or other absurdities), natural disasters, man-made disasters or the second coming.
With all that out of the way, and recognising that I live a fairly dull and boring life (for which I'm very grateful) it seems that the only newsworthy items that might concern me are traffic reports and weather forecasts. What would I pay to hear about them? I reckon 10p a day should cover it!
Reuters supply the news. AP also supply news but people already pay for that.
BBC provides the news. I already pay for that.
As I said, I'll not pay so I won't be receiving the Times in my mail much longer but the point I'm making is that it won't make the slightest bit of difference to me. There are a million and one sites to get news from.
My point was that I will pay for my newspaper but I won't pay for online newspapers when there simply is no need.
I don't care if El Reg go subscription. Very little of it is anything other than a distraction and would not be missed. The bulk of the newsworthy items are available elsewhere, they just don't usually have the same combination of vitriol and idiocy in the comments.
News does not need flowery prose and individual opinion, it simply needs reporting.
If I want to read an op-ed piece then I may have to go looking for it and pay for it. That's not news though.
But again. I gave my opinion on why I won't pay and nor will I need to.
I wouldnt mind paying for content IF that content was noticably better than anything else on the web that is available for free across all news topics
As a person that hasnt really ever bought a newspaper (shock horror!) I get most of my news from the web and can quickly surf between sites for better coverage on a specific topic. I cant see this working unless the content is so good i go to only that site rather than "shop around" for my news as I currently do.
So links from Google News will direct people to the pay wall. Unfortunately for Rupert, Google already gives users links to matching news stories from other sources (which will be free).
As more and more people avoid the links to News Corp. websites and opt for alternative sources, the ranking algorithms will kick in and put them lower and lower on the list. Or at least I hope that's what will happen.
News International has a single newspaper title that can justify a subscription, the WSJ. If Murdoch really thinks he can make more money with subs on any of the "generalist" titles he needs to step down. Much more likely is a plan, just what the plan is will eventually be revealed. Or it could be just the Times committing suicide. Either way, a joy to watch, couldn't happen to a more deserving chap.
For world news go to Reuters, for UK domestic go to the BBC, for business news Bloomberg and Reuters, buy your local newspaper for local news and the ads. National newspapers are today's buggy whips.
I heard someone from it on R4 the other day saying about how they used to pass over many news stories because someone else in one of the virtual monopoly papers would cover it (NY Times/LA Times/WaPo/etc). but then they saw the metro dailies were getting into trouble and they realised they could add general news for little extra money so people wouldn't need their local mono-daily.
I do not understand why the article thinks free is bad. Free means more eyeballs looking at the ads. Free means more revenue from ads for page impressions etc. Lots of sites and services manage to be funded through advertising revenue. I don't even understand why news outlets hate aggregation. Aggregation means people will visit the site who may never have heard of it before, again putting eyeballs in front of those adverts.
Putting a newspaper behind a paywall means losing 99.9% of your visitors. Perhaps if a newspaper occupied some unique niche (e.g. FT, or the Racing Post), it might be able to attract visitors.
But The Times is a not in a niche - it's a pretty generic broadsheet newspaper. What it reports is not especially different from the Telegraph, or the Independent, or the Guardian. It might spin stories, but much of the content is the same, being from AP / Reuters or whatever. Even for opinion / editorial etc. it isn't hard to find some blogger with similar views. I bet many of the opinion writers probably maintain their own blogs anyway.
So to hell with the Times. If they want to disappear off the face of the internet, well so long.
I just know I'm going to give in and buy the thing.
If it allows me to read papers on the web comfortably as I eat my lunch then I will no longer be buying the print version of the Times every day. So at worst I'm looking at £2 a week instead of £5 or £0 if I find I don't miss the Times columnists too much.
I never click on adverts so charging for the online version is the only hope Rupert has for rescuing any income from me. I would imagine he'll come out ahead too given the margins of newsprint vs online costs. Shame about the local shop though.
Nope - don't like Murdoch and the right wing bias in the papers - however also sick of the left wing winge too. I get my news from the BBC (which is left-ish but tries to be balanced) and is also one of the few news organisations that still have international correspondants and reporters. It's just too expensive for most other sources.
All around the world, the international news desks are closing and being replaced with a Reuters feed or other newswire.
To be honest most of the public don't care (which is a shame, but human nature not to care about events elsewhere) so the papers fill in the gaps with celeb gossip and editorial columns.
Now - to be fair - I would pay for a good column. I like Charlie Brooker - I don't care that he is in the Guardian. I like El Reg due to the personalised news output. I could probably get most of the El Reg news in dry formats elsewhere but prefer the amusing slant on the everyday stories.
I do agree with the earlier comment about using this as a future stick to beat the BBC with since they "can't compete with taxpayer funded free news".
These days a single newspaper --- print or on-line -- isn't any use as a news source. There's insufficient information there, you need to check several sources to get a real picture of what's going on. That's why on-line search is important -- each thing on its own is useless, its the aggregation that makes it important.
So goodbye Times and other Murdoch rags. They're no use anyway -- Murdoch's news empire is chronically unreliable as a news source, in the US at least it makes stuff up.
I don't have any objection to paying, though. I subscribe to a print paper or two because its my way of feeding the system and I buy news magazines -- this is where the real information is to be had and money's to be made.
As the Times are putting up their paywall, the Guardian are opening up their content even more. Rather than trying to get people to pay for the content and preventing linking, they are providing a free API so other sites can search and pull back articles. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/open-platform
It seems that they are trying different ways to monetise the content they have. It's as much of a gamble, but it seems like a more creative solution.
"And whatever else Murdoch may be, he certainly isn't stupid."
I used to think the man had some brains (I mean, it must take someone at least "quite brainy" to achieve his level of business success) but after hearing a recent interview with him where he made a total prat of himself when trying to explain google and the interwebs in relation to online news media, I think the man is clearly an idiot at worst or totally out of touch at best.
A media mougal who dose not understand the media - hahaha!
People downvoted you because you pointed out a spelling error. I'm curious as to whether that's a personality thing (I think the upvoting/downvoting thing is turning the Register into a bit of a popularity contest)
Or alternatively it could be because he did spell it with just one U, it just happened to be in the wrong place with another couple of letters in there instead.
And I guess you are stuck with the vulture icon instead of the more correct spelling nazi icon
...so I read the bits I'm interested 'for free' but give a cafe owner $3 for a coffee. That's a lot of people sharing a few newspapers and 'minimizing' Murdoch's direct sales. Oddly enough I have been getting his weekend papers home delivered for free because whoever the moron local distributor is has been throwing them over the fence for a few years now without me even asking them too. Great. If they try to pick me up on it, I'll %^&ing sue them for littering my front yard. And yes this rich complex business model all predates the 'net. Speaking of simpletons, why wouldn't someone just subscribe, then share the logon with oh, about 20 different friends ? iPad or not you ought to be able to browse and login and I'll bet the software won't keep track of how many times you're logged in on different devices.
So he lost 3.6bn and now he wants inexpensive electronic publishing to plug the hole left by very outmoded newsprint, news-press machines, distribution systems (profit taken along the chain) and then leaving the reader with a huge disposal problem. "News" papers are so over, this is a death throw. His last revolution digital input was on the leading curve, now he has lost sight - reminds me of Geffen & the music industry trying to keep it as it was.
He could run a fantastic electronic system for 50 mil, no prob and the fees would be rational or with good ads nil, even having some money over for comment journalists as seen today on The Times.
Subsidising outmoded methods has never worked, and it never will.
One factor to be considered is - how much real news is there? Take out 'The government is thought to be considering...' and 'Reactions to last week's events continue...' and 'Columnist ekes 2000 words out of idle speculation' - and there won't be an awful lot left.
Wash out the spin, and you could get a day's real news on a single page of A4.
On newsprint, you might not notice this. But I reckon the sparsity of real news becomes much more obvious on the web - especially when it's so easy to scan several sites, and spot the same press releases being regurgitated.
There may be moments - perhaps once a year - when you really need to know a given fact. And it may be acceptable to pay a quid to get it - but only if you can't get it elsewhere, for free. That doesn't sound like a business plan to me.
People will always write news and people will always read news. Just like people will always make and watch movies and make or listen to music. If the big businesses who are currently in charge of these things die out because of piracy and whatnot then the worst that will happen is that we'll have to do without those luxuries for a little while and put up with slightly lower quality.
But I can't see any evidence that they're going to drop adverts altogether, in fact the front page has a link for potential advertisers to use.
So they don't need to replace all of the revenue from ads, in fact they may not need to replace any of it because the ad people might (probably will) get access to a bunch of demographic data that they wouldn't get from the normal paper - and they may place a high value on that.
I also see they appear to have their pricing wrong, surely the accepted norm is to charge twice as much for the electronic version?
And lastly, if they are targeting this at the iPad owners then someone needs to point out that they have way too much Flash on their new site.
Actually, this is a prime example of what is wrong with web+flash generally; all of the flash applets on the front page are just showing pictures, which is something that can be easily achieved by, say, using a picture. I expect it's to make it difficult for someone to steal the picture, although it doesn't make it impossible and it does spoil the experience for those of us with blocking software.
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