7 August 2009

Why Murdoch is right on charging for online news

The Web is abuzz after media baron Rupert Murdoch of New Corp said that his group's newspapers planned to charge for online news/content.
I have no problem with that. Though obituaries and criticism of such a move are afloat on the selfsame Net.
As an experienced journalist, I make a few simple observations.
It costs money to make people do reportage
Credibility comes from known sources that employ processes
Bloggers and others who simply extract published news from the Web and repeate it have no viable business model and breaking news cannot be ad-hoc.
If it is offered free, it has to be accounted in financial terms somewhere--at least by cross-subsidisation.
For more than a decade now, newspaper publishers have been shooting themselves in the foot in order to understand the new medium better.
They have tried to behave like news agencies, reporting 24/7
They have offered content free, only to find their own revenues and circulation falling.
They have invested in technology and branding, but online ads have not got the traction to take it beyond a point.
Above all, they have to suffer sites like Google News that looks like a newspaper and rides on free content from the papers and other online news sites.
Something's gotta give.
If Murdoch charges, will other newspapers see it as an opportunity or a threat? I don't know, but  I do know that sooner or later, viable models for both credibility and profitability in online news has to come in.