Rupert Murdoch, the man behind News Corp, says that it’s time to fix a “malfunctioning” business model when it comes to online news – specifically his newspapers. To do this he is expected to follow the Wall Street Journal subscription model and expect us to open up our wallets for his other online newspapers. This move to fix what he sees as a problem will happen within the year.
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.
Source: Guardian Online (still free)
The only problem with this is that as smart as Murdoch might be he seems to be missing the global nature of the Web. The world of newspapers, especially the ones that made Murdoch insanely rich, on the other hand are for the most part regional. Exceptions do exist where some newspapers have broken through this regional limitation much as Murdoch’ Wall Street Journal has. It is also a paper that many people are willing to pay a subscription for. This mentality doesn’t apply to the other 99% of newspapers that are online.
The idea that readers are going to be willing to pay a subscription for the same news that they can find at a hundred other news sites, blogs or otherwise, is just a little hard to see happening. While news is pretty well unique the interpretation or presentation of it isn’t. There is nothing in the way news is presented on the web that would make it a commodity that people will be willing to pay for.
The Wall Street Journal is unique among online news properties and is a member of a very exclusive club. That doesn’t mean though that Murdoch is going to be able to turn the rest of his news properties into the same kind of thing. In trying to do that all he will be doing is creating another Wall Street Journal. Just how many of those do we need in this day and age?
I thought so .. good luck with that plan Rupert.