Media magnate Rupert Murdoch, head of the News Corporation, is now prepared to remove his content from the Google’s search index within months as he continues down the path to ‘pay to read’ news.
He is convinced that this is the way forward in order for such news sites to provide first class journalism, employ staff in far-flung outposts and generally remain in business.
Murdoch states that his corporation could survive both economically and audience-wise without the need of traffic from the likes of Google, but does admit that he could not make the step on his own and is trying to persuade other news media to follow his example.
The whole news media system has changed, as it has in many other spheres, such as the music industry, but whether ‘pay to read’ is the answer is open to debate, and it’s becoming quite a heated debate.
The world has changed, continues to do so and there is little or no chance of returning to the ‘old days’. The internet has made the world not only a far smaller place, but it has opened up whole new sources of news at every level. Sales of hard copy newspapers are ever dwindling, some have ceased production altogether and are concentrating on online content.
For online content, advertising is the primary source of income, be it for the Times Online or a lone blogger in Timbuktu, and the News Corporation is obviously not getting what it considers to be an adequate supply. But are subscriptions or pay per view, as it were, the best answer?
Mr Murdoch says that people are prepared to pay for ‘top quality journalism’ or ‘special articles’ such as reports on the Afghan war. Are they?
One would imagine that the vast majority are just looking for a ‘bit of news’, so if the Times, for example, wasn’t able to provide that news free of charge then people would look elsewhere. That same information, apart from a real exclusive ‘scoop’ of course, is now available from so many different sources.
Google has its own news sites, the BBC provides a very good free news service, Chinese sites publish some very good news content in English as do thousands of others. And other news sources, such as Twitter and, probably shortly, Google Wave, are coming more to the fore. There is more sifting of the wheat from the chaff needed with these sources, but Twitter for one proved invaluable during the Iranian troubles.
If the media sites are not attracting the right amount of advertisers, maybe they need to look at content and layout amongst other things. Talk of providing first class journalism is a bit difficult when your stable includes The News of the World, The Sun and Fox News.
There obviously need to be changes of some sort, but whether paid subscriptions are the answer, who knows. Doubt it. The music industry has had to change its entire philosophy, maybe the media industry has to do the same.
Interestingly, if you go directly to the Wall Street Journal (Murdoch owned) site, non-subscribers can only read the first paragraph of an article. If you access an article via Google link then you get to see the full article.