Will You Pay for Internet News?

By Ray Hunt

The newspaper business is “malfunctioning” in the internet era, according to one Rupert Murdoch.

And the solution the sun king is proposing is to make people pay to access newspapers via the internet.

”We think of newspapers in the old-fashioned way, printed on crushed wood so to speak, [but the future of newspapers] it’s going to be digital,” the 78-year old media mogul said in a recent interview on News Corp’s Fox Business channel in the US.
”Within ten years I believe nearly all newspapers will be delivered digitally,” he added.

This rapid evolutionary process is already eating into newspapers profits and circulations around the world. American broadsheet newspapers have been mortally wounded in the past 18 months, hit by a double whammy of decline in advertising and readership driven by the recession and people moving to online newspapers and media websites.

Mr Murdoch plans to start charging access fees for some of New Ltd’s newspaper sites over the next year – starting in the UK, according to his public comments – to make up for falling print advertising and to boost online earnings.

A group of major American newspaper publishers reportedly gathered a fortnight ago to consider how to move their online businesses to a pay-per-view model.

The concept of making people pay for online media has got some momentum. Publishers in Australia and around the world are watching their old business model disintegrate. Classified advertising, the financial life blood of most newspapers, is moving to the web.

Whatever happens, big changes to the way the news media interacts with its customers are on the way.

A few questions arising for Blogocrats: which media would you be prepared to pay to access online? If you have to pay-per-view for online media, do you think it will change the way you access the news?

And – here’s a potentially lucrative new revenue generating concept for pressured media proprietors – why not let customers pay a fee to nominate boring programs, obnoxious news storylines, and pompous media personalities for removal from the media web?

Tell us which media programs, annoying stories and presenters you would be prepared to pay a small amount to banish from the media landscape? And why?


103 Responses

  1. No.

    It’s a flawed model and can only work if they have exclusivity to news items and noone else covers the same story or if they do they are also charging a price for it.

    Crikey has covered this extensively.

  2. Pay per view would need to be a very small amount. I wouldn’t pay a subscription to read News Ltd sites, for example, although I’d happily pay a $1 a day to make Bolt go away.

  3. No.

    Exclusivity to news items would be almost impossible today with news aggregater sites around today.

    I only read the headlines, some opinion pieces and the letters these days on the online sites. The headline stories I can get anywhere. And who in their right minds would pay for the tripe served up as opinion pieces in either Fairfax or Murdoch sites? I get can better opinion and comments (the equivalent of the letters page) on blogs.

    RIP hardcopy newspapers and good riddance you only have yourselves to blame as you raced each other to the bottom of the trough rather than increase the quality of your reporting and opinion pieces.

  4. RIP hardcopy newspapers and good riddance you only have yourselves to blame as you raced each other to the bottom of the trough rather than increase the quality of your reporting and opinion pieces.

    Too bloody right, cobber.

  5. If this comes about I will get my news from the ABC site as it is ours and they should not be allowed to charge at all!

    Now I’ll put my business hat on…if the print media disappeared there would be obvious savings in overheads…printing presses, ink, paper, staff and distribution.

    Advertising online could possibly draw a premium income stream as the exposure would be far greater which I believe would more than cover profit loss from print.

    Finally…Murdoch is profit driven and I’m sure if he backs something it is for greed and I suspect if it goes pay per view he will clean up!

    One more thing…the billing and payment regime would be a nightmare, due to the nature of the Internet I won’t disclose financial details and I’m sure I’m not alone out there.

    The more I ponder it looks like a type of censorship based on socio-economic circumstance…don’t like the idea at all!

  6. I believe The Daily Show had a piece recently on The NY Times – and how they just print yesterdays news. And that is where the internet comes in, because it can be updated as the stories develop.

    Do I think that I would pay for a news site? Probably not – because as everyone knows, you do not have to go to a single place to get the news. I think the model that Rupert wants will only happen if all internet news moves to a charge model – and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

    (Thanks for the thread Ray).

  7. Honestly, the only news site I’d pay for would be the ABC as it, by dint of being government funded, can be reviewed for bias whenever required. Other sites are not going to go through that (they need their bias in order to cater for their desired audience).

    The problem is going to be that unless all news sites go for the “walled garden” business model – the scheme won’t work. This is why Murdoch is hasn’t just done it already. He needs to get wide-spread agreement and nigh on simultaneous implementation for it to not hurt his news sites (drastically).

    The issue for Murdoch and similar adopters is going to be that the news will spread by blogs should they decide to go down that path. All a dedicated blogger would need is the subscription to four or five news sites (preferably of different political bents to get different views on the subject), glean the facts & quotes from the news that cannot be copyrighted, and rewrite them in a slightly different fashion. You know – what standard newspapers & news sites do with syndicated content!

  8. What a ‘friggin out of touch dinosaur ….

    ”We think of newspapers in the old-fashioned way, printed on crushed wood so to speak, [but the future of newspapers] it’s going to be digital,” the 78-year old media mogul said in a recent interview on News Corp’s Fox Business channel in the US.
    ”Within ten years I believe nearly all newspapers will be delivered digitally,” he added

    They are NOW! You Robber Baron twit … NOW!

    How do they become multi-millionaires is beyond me …. ?

    … remember, TB, you are just a visitor to this planet …

    … you will be beamed up when your mission is accomplished …

  9. Jeez, TB, what am I gonna put on the bottom of the cocky’s cage now?

  10. I can think of a few suggestions, ToSY, but deep down I know your a nice person! LOL! 😆

  11. “what am I gonna put on the bottom of the cocky’s cage now?”

    My BAS forms!

  12. Rupert won’t be getting one red cent from me.

    Without a massive wrestling for control of the internet the horse has bolted & the usual suspects will hopefully be facing complete erosion of their dangerously influential momopolies.

    Fingers & toes crossed. Freedom of information should never be in the cynical hands of an opportunistic few.

  13. Damn. Spaminated twice!

  14. Toiletboss,

    Do you watch the dog Whisperer? I love it, and I don’t even have a dog. It’s on now Fox Bio Ch115.

  15. Murdoch et al. have a point. By and large, Blogs and Blogger are parasites, in the sense they feed off the labour of others and do so without a direct contribution.

    ‘Information’ has to be generated because it’s not part of the ‘ether’ or ‘miasma’. That costs money and I’m not sure that advertising is sufficient to generate same.

    In times past, I bought three paper a day and now I buy none – instead I access X numbers of papers a day including any number of international publications and constant updates. Tis a golden age but clearly it can’t last.

    Just sayin

  16. Reality bites N5. I think you’re right but I would that you are wrong.

  17. I’m afraid that this might open the floodgates. Why stop at online readership? Let’s charge for watching the news on TV as well.

  18. Toiletboss, on June 14th, 2009 at 8:55 pm Said:

    I think you’re right but I would that you are wrong.

    So do I but I’m not sure how it will evolve. As someone who employed a number of journalist over the years and dealt with many more, I have some (limited) insights into the problem.

    Let’s imagine, for example, there’s (future) rampant child sexual abuse at a remote Aboriginal community in Nth QLD. Currently people like Tony Koch through his ‘contacts’ built up over the years gets a ‘tip-off’, approaches his editor and receives permission to fly North and ‘investigate’. It’s an activity that costs thousands and at best will produce two stories a day but at least the public is informed of the ‘problem’.

    Let’s also imagine a contrary scenario when there’s absolutely no perceived money in the story and therefore no-one is sent and because the ‘locals’ have no means to provide the info the average punter remains ignorant. One could go on.

    Clearly if there is no money for investigative journalism or even opinion columns, Blogs will be almost meaningless,

  19. Miglo, on June 14th, 2009 at 9:06 pm Said

    Let’s charge for watching the news on TV as well.

    Well if one leaves the ‘news’ out of it, doesn’t Fox et al. charge for the many services provided? isn’t Murdoch saying, the service costs big bucks but many of the ‘users’ are not paying? Doesn’t he have apoint?

  20. Something springs to mind about Rupert & the horse he rode in on…

  21. Paying for information will be an unbelievably slanted way of running an already less than ideal democracy.

  22. Toiletboss, on June 14th, 2009 at 9:36 pm Said:

    Paying for information will be an unbelievably slanted way of running an already less than ideal democracy.

    Toiletboss, Rupert is not saying you can’t generate ‘information’ all by yourself. Indeed go ahead. Feel free. What he is saying is: I generate this information at considerable expense. If you want it pay for it in much the same way as you pay for ice-cream, financial advice, medical advice and the like.

  23. Well, given the amount of advertising on the various news sites, it is a surprise that this revenue is insufficient.

    The lack of advertising here ought to be addressed, there are quite obvious and significant business opportunities for behavioural psychologists, for example.

  24. I understand that the mill grinds slowly N5, & that there is a certain scent of inevitability about what you’re saying.

    I just don’t like it.

    I don’t like a lot of things but I learn to live with them. I’d rather withdraw into my cynical shell than pay for reality updates though.

    Your points are all valid, as always.

  25. The “information” I generate isn’t a comodity. lol.

    I wouldn’t pay to read my amusement.

  26. Tom of Melbourne, on June 14th, 2009 at 9:56 pm Said:

    it is a surprise that this revenue is insufficient.

    Tom I don’t have the figures, but clearly there is a migration from the MSM to the Net. One revenue avenue declines while another grows, but without the figures, I’m not sure it’s a zero-sum game.

    As for:

    there are quite obvious and significant business opportunities for behavioural psychologists,

    Indeed! Perhaps they could be located somewhere in Central Australia with the … etc.

  27. Indeed, this site is proof enough that there are those that enjoy the heat, flies and misfits, and there are misfits that that let fly with hot air.

  28. Tom of Melbourne, on June 14th, 2009 at 10:25 pm Said:

    Indeed, this site is proof enough that there are those that enjoy the heat, flies and misfits

    Enjoy? Who said anything about enjoy? Tis about the ‘experience’ surely? And how to deal with the ‘misfits’ in all their manifestations. Character building?

    As for:

    there are misfits that that let fly with hot air.


  29. Couldn’t be happier that Rupert is proposing this, given his effect on the discourse in various regions around the world. Should diminish his influence rather nicely 😉

    Micropayments don’t work. A big reason is that it takes mental effort to decide whether it is worth buying each tiny snippet – and the “cost” of that mental effort generally outweighs the derived benefits. That’s why content is usually sold in aggregated form. (Getting people to subscribe to future installments is another significant challenge, especially if – as someone said – you don’t have unique content.)

  30. I generate this information at considerable expense.

    I’m not sure that Rupert generates ANY information (tongue only slightly in cheek).

    In information theory, the information content of a piece of data is related to its unlikelihood of occurring; in news, presumably the value of reporting is in timeliness, accuracy and relevance. In the former sense there’s very little information value in Fox News (for example), because it’s all so predictable based on the party line; in the latter sense, there’s arguably a lot less value than you’d expect from “news” most of the time…

  31. Lotharsson, on June 14th, 2009 at 10:36 pm Said:

    Micropayments don’t work

    I think you’re correct. But then again, I can’t see how the ‘free’ content model is sustainable.

    Perhaps this is like WCs, a race to the bottom?

  32. N5, you seem to have neglected to think about the culinary delight of maggot caviar.

    Misfits love in the hot, dusty, fly infested centre. They mix with other misfits, and there are plenty of them about.

  33. If kamahl was here he’d implore you to stop referring to me as a misfit.

    Kamahloderator: Why is everyone so unkind? Play nicely kids.

  34. Tom of Melbourne, on June 14th, 2009 at 10:44 pm Said:

    Misfits love in the hot, dusty, fly infested centre. They mix with other misfits, and there are plenty of them about

    Tom the ‘misfits’ and their mental incapabilities are not confined to the ‘centre’ or its environs. As evidence, I provide this link …

  35. keenly anticipating link…

  36. Which link?

  37. Which link? Toiletboss and Tom, methinks you are trying to stir the possum. And no it’s not the Possum C who provides the expert commentary on things political via informed statistical analysis.

    No it’s the one who wants to populate a place he’s never experienced. Etc ..

  38. Interesting comments on this subject, indeed very interesting.
    Taking into consideration all comments on this subject, let us ponder the possibilities:

    What if, just what if:
    a) Rupert does a deal with the largest ISPs in English speaking countries for them to deliver Fox/Newscorp news items, with an additional cost to the consumer equivalent to the price (cumulatively, or thereabouts, of a daily newspaper) along with relevant blogs;

    b) Rupert buys the largest ISPs in those countries; and, does a deal with google?


  39. Nah Oftenbark that will only work if he ties up the entire ISP market and cuts off every other method for online news delivery, so it won’t be a checkmate just a check.

    For him to checkmate he will need to do the impossible and take every opponent piece off the board except the king whilst not losing a single one of his pieces and converting his pawns to queens.

    For example you are leaving an escape for the opponent king by specifying “English speaking countries” because the news aggregators will just move to non-English speaking country ISPs as their distributors.

    Another escape for the opponent king is you have only specified Google which leaves many other avenues for news to go to and probably a decline in Google they won’t wear.

  40. No – I will not be paying to read News Ltd’s pig-swill journalism.

  41. … and Pay TV was going to swamp free to air?

    Sydney-based consultancy Connections Research’s new Digital Atlas survey last month suggested pay TV subscriptions would plateau at 33 percent while growth in free-to-air digital households continues to rise strongly. Just over 28 percent of Australian households currently subscribe to pay TV – 1.55 million customers are signed up to Foxtel and 700,000 to Austar. But Connections boss Graeme Philipson says subscriptions will grow by just two percent this year, to reach 30 percent penetration nationally.

    The Australian take up of 28% (the last time I checked) is actually greater than the USA and Europe…

    I have enough trouble keeping up with free to air with out paying for additional TV … that amusingly runs adverts as well as expecting subscribers to cough up payment each month …

    Note: Austar was a client of mine)

  42. Link to the full article on my last post dated 30/10/2008


  43. “that amusingly runs adverts as well as expecting subscribers to cough up payment each month …”

    One of the reasons I dropped Austar years ago as well as crappy programming. It’s just as hard to find something decent to watch on pay tv as it is on free-to-air.

    I would say this year if our tv had been on, for other than watching DVDs, more than 20 hours I would be very surprised.

  44. Was just thinking..which is probably a bad move given that I have the woman flu…but if I was looking to charge someone for something, I would be looking to what would capture the most audience. And so it would become a bit the same as Austar, basic service but pay through the nose for anything additional.

    Therefore if this was applied to pay to view newspapers then ‘popular’ (gets the audience in) would mean endless stories about Brittney and Paris, a very basic overview of ‘the news’ and pay through the nose for any commentary. Especially as Nature5 pointed out, true investigative journalism costs money.

    Just a thought (another one), but surely blogs and blogocrats increase rather than decrease hits to sites. That is the blogs provide links to say the Oz and people read the article when they normally would not access this site.

  45. I should have added, blogs = more hits to external sites = more exposure to the advertising on these sites.

  46. Well, how about Joni & Reb privatise this site, 500,000 hits must be worth something in potential advertising revenue.

    I say sell it to News, have a big, long lunch with the proceeds. Then become so contentious and offensive within their site that they close it.

    Then start this again here.

    May seem a little circular, but we’d get a good lunch out of the process.

  47. I most certainly will not pay for internet news.

  48. Kate..I don’t think that anyone will. As I mentioned, pay for ‘news’ about Britney, Paris, Russ and the usual gaggle of trivia? They could try it, but they would have to offer some substance.

  49. I think that some will pay for extra expert content – like the WSJ and the Financial Review.

  50. “Then become so contentious and offensive within their site that they close it….”
    Tom of Melbourne, on June 15th, 2009 at 10:24 am Said:

    Are you volunteering your personality Tom ?

  51. Can you imagine paying to read Akerman, Bolt, Devine, Henderson etc.? 😆

    I don’t even read them now when they’re free.

  52. Maybe that could be a new saying, like when people are getting made redundant:

    “So, did you get a good adios?”

    “Yeah, my redundancy payment was not bad, paid a few bills..”


    “Bugger it. I’ve just been made redundant. But it’s not too bad. I’ve been there for 15 years so I got a good adios”

  53. Tom,

    That sounds like a splendid idea. I’d like some big cash “adios” type handout from News Ltd first though.

    What do you think my chances are?

  54. Reb, I think the first thing to do is get some due diligence consultants in to prepare this “business” for listing.

    I happen to know some that will do a great job, for a relatively modest fee.

    As news of this planned listing becomes known in the investment community, offers will roll in.

    News will have to snap it up, to prevent it from falling to an adverting agency, and therefore sapping News of a significant revenue stream.

    The market is picking up. Time to get ready for a sale, time to get the collective snouts back in the corporate trough.

  55. It isn’t going to happen..because there are always going to be people who are going to provide the information for free.

    As Daphon says, who is going to pay to read Akers et al.

    Just a thought..maybe..just maybe when they were mentioning about the Blogs they meant the ones such as Akers? Surely the rusted ons would pay to post their comments on Akers and Bolts blogs? Given that they’re so passionate about their various causes.

  56. Tom

    Now you’re talking my language:


    Maybe some third party endorsement from someone who people respect and adore. Like Alan Kohler or Paul Clitheroe, or me, cleverly disguised as one of them.

    And we could hold “investor seminars” at Crown and park our glossy black Maserati’s out the front.

    And be seen dining at Vue de Monde…

    And all that sort of thing…

    I can see it now….. It’s all becoming perfectly clear…

    *leans back on armchair and taps fingers together*


  57. Just as well Nasking’s not about at the moment; I recall him being most critical of Tim Dunlop for ‘selling-out to The Man’ (or words to that effect) when he moved from RTS to News Ltd.

  58. (Nasking’s comments were made at LP, in case you’re wondering.)

  59. ‘within ten years all newspapers will be delivered digitally’ – Rupert

    ‘I think (excellent, I believe you do) that some will pay for extra expert comment, like WSJ, Wall Street Journal’ – Joni

    Rupert is effectively stating that within ten years, news printing presses will become obsolete, which will again effectively render his printed news operations worthless. Perhaps my ‘checkmate’ comment was not entirely apt, however, Rupert is undoubtedly well placed to wield a large news and entertainment punch. Integral to all of that is exactly how Rupert will deliver his vast media empire to the hoi polloi. Somehow, something tells me Rupert is not one to sit on his hands.
    Adrian will have us believe Rupert is prepared to walk away from the following business interests, without a controlling whimper?

    New York Post, Wall Street Journal, Times Herald Record, Brooklyn Paper, Dow Jones & Company.
    Wall Street Journal Europe, Wall Street Journal Asia, Barron’s Weekly Financial, Marketwatch, Far Eastern Economic Review, Factiva, Dow Jones Indexes, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Dow Jones Financial Information Services, Betten Financial News.
    Ottaway Community Newspapers, STOOX, Vedomosti, Smart Money.
    The Sun, News of The World, The Times, Sunday Times, TheLondonPaper (free).
    Vast media interests in Asia Pacific, at least 23 outlets, too numerous to mention.
    Inside Out, Donna Hay, News America Marketing, SmartSource, The Weekly Standard, Gemstar.

    Internet, the vehicle: Fox Interactive Media
    American Idol, AskMen, Fox.com, Foxsports.com, Gamespy, Hulu.com, DrownedInSound, MySpace, IGN, kSolo, Photobucket, Rotten Tomatoes, Scout.com, Spring Widgets, What If Sports, Photobucket.


    Leading figures of the investment community today provided an unqualified endorsement of the decision to publicly list one of Australia’s leading internet based news, fact and opinion sharing businesses.

    During his press conference announcing the decision the Chairman of Blogocrats Pty Ltd, Lord Reb, said:

    “What was orignially a small information and news exchange businesses has grown without interruption since its inception. It is now one of the leading independently owned news and information businesses in Australia.

    It is now appropriate that the Board of Directors provide all Australians with the opportunity to participate in the rewards offered by the continued success of this outstanding business.

    The growth of our company has followed a similar trajectory to that of Microsoft during its initial period of operation.”

    All investors and interested parties should refer enquiries to https://blogocrats.wordpress.com

  61. Tom

    (and I am just being cheeky – so please take this the right way)

    And Lord Reb and Ponce joni will have total control over the new venture.

  62. We’ll see…the Bloggers Union will unite to wrench control and you will be plagued by industrial disputes!

    I nominate Tom as our representative.

  63. I’m sorry Joni, but you’re too much of a “bleeding heart” which I mean in the nicest possible way of course.

    What’s needed to run a successful enterprise is guts, sheer determination and a ruthless disregard for any lefty leaning socialism nonsense.

    Tom and I are on to it.

    30% sound alright to you Tom? Good. Excellent!

  64. Adrian will have us believe Rupert is prepared to walk away from the following business interests, without a controlling whimper?

    Where did I say that oftenbark?

    Or do you like misconstruing others for the heck of it?

  65. …that some will pay for extra expert comment,

    I’d consider paying for expert comment, if they actually were experts some sort of decent credibility and insight that (a) I was interested in, and (b) I couldn’t find elsewhere. Trouble is, a lot of “experts” in newspapers don’t have sufficient credibility (based on their track records – or the lack of them) or insight that isn’t found (say) on free blogs.

  66. Agree Lotharsson,

    By the time a thread here has got up a head of steam, and you’ve done the odd spot of research yourself, who needs some overrated newspaper hack to tell you what to they think?

  67. ProPublica – a non-profit investigative journalism model?

  68. Unfortunately Joni, I will merely be a consultant on the due diligence process, without any authority. No control, no influence. A mere cog to ensure the concept is published and available to the Australian mums and dads, as well as institutional investors, who are starved of stable and rewarding investment opportunities.

    Although for this I’ll obtain a fair fee and a shareholding.

    I’d love to offer you a directorship, but some ‘wealth crazed prick’ seems to have vetoed the suggestion.

  69. 😥

    After all my hard work I get shafted.

  70. I haven’t forgotten about you Joni.

    I was thinking of issuing you with 100,000 options at the almost giveaway price of $5 each.*

    Imagine how much money you could make in two years time when they’re worth three or four times that much?

    (*Offer needs to be accepted and paid for in advance before close of business today).

  71. reb,

    I feel like Peter King to your Malcolm Turnbull. I do all the hard work for the electorate and you swan in and take the glory….. 😥

  72. Hi everyone, had a weekend away and left the laptop at home to ensure a real break, so excuse my tardy response …

    I’m not sure that what we are facing will be a blanket entry price on access to news websites.

    For the sake of this discussion, let’s suppose that a canny media entrepeneur decides to initially partition off some of their most popular content.

    Let’s say, for example, a Sydney tabloid paper gets an exclusive interview with Ricky Ponting the day before the Ashes commence. There might be 150 word teasers in other News Ltd titles pointing cricket tragics to the Tele. Here the choice might be, lets say, a $2 fee to view the single cricket article or a $5 fee to get a month’s unlimited access to a News Corp ‘premium’ sports site that contains wall to wall ‘exclusive’ content.

    Imagine the lured punters could also listen to the audio of the entire Ponting interview, view-on-demand the best international one day cricket of the past decade, blog with Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson about the ‘art’ of fast bowling and get invited to exclusive ‘meet and greet’ members-only seminars with other high profile cricketers, etc.

    Properly cross-promoted, such a site would have real commercial potential and if cricket fans thought what was on offer was unique value for money, a number of them would pay.

    Sport alone could motivate a reasonable number of fans – think also AFL, soccer, athletics, Rugby – to pull out their credit cards. There are other subjects we could nominate with similar potential.

    After initial complaints, if the value proposition was attractive enough some people would pay. The key underlying question being how many?

  73. Hi Mobius,

    yes Crikey and the media-trade media has covered this subject quite extensively but as most are pay-to-view media outlets, it would be relevant to know how many media consumers have been exposed to the discussion.

    I’m curious to know how many Blogocrats read Crikey?

  74. I don’t read Crikey.

  75. The National Times, which was once a serious Asutralian investigative newspaper that assumed it’s readers were intelligent, is being relaunched as a website-only title, Fairfax announced last week.

    Agree with Min and Nature 5 that, while seriously annoying at the tabloid end of the market, proper investigative journalism does help to keep politicians and big business on their toes.

    The National Times exposed, for example, a lot of ugliness in NSW – in politics, the judiciary and law enforcement – so much so that it became a target. Spineless middle managers closed it down in the late 80s, when a certain NSW Premier switched all the government’s classified advertising to the opposition media company. And the Australian media landscape has been so much shallower ever since.

    The National Times was strong beacuse it had quality journalists – Brian Toohey, Colleen Ryan, Wendy Bacon, Robert Haupt, etc, etc – and a ‘wthout fear or favour’ approach to the stories they covered.

    I for one would pay a small fee for a National Times with the genuine ” shake the tree and see what falls out” spirit of its ancestor.

    Nature 5 makes the important point that it costs lots of money to apply critical media thinking to large organisations in the public and private sector.

    Without secure income, the media is reduced to running the cheap thrills and spills formula many of us are already sick of: Celebrity rubbish that writes itself , formulaic soaps entirely paid for by ‘product placement’ and sports coverage which requires little creativity: the cameras simply follow the ball up and down the oval.

    There is a fork in the road. There are clear choices shrouded in ambiguity of the fast-moving cyber world. Today it is the traditional business model of newspapers being shredded, tomorrow it’s likely to be television and advertising industries that have to rebuild themselves in less than a decade.

  76. Personally, I don’t think the internet and traditional media are an ‘either or’ proposition. Blogs and other interactive media have added a lot of new dimensions to the media landscape but, as Often Bark posted here, it would be seriously strange if the Murdoch’s of the world were not going to look hard for ways to profitably marry the old and new schools of media.

    It may take a few years of trial and error for big league media proprietors to develop the right formula for the cyber age but history suggests you would be brave to bet against a brilliant macro strategist like Rupert Murdoch.

  77. Ray Hunt, thanks for the heads up on the Times, I look forward to some investigative journalism as it seems all but dead these days.

  78. Ray Hunt.

    I don’t pay for Crikey and just about all their discussions on the print media decline, including the spectacular decline in the US where reporters and papers are dropping like flies, have been conducted in their open sections and blogs.

    Of course they are coming at it from a self interest point of view as they see failure of print and other types of traditional media an opening for them to make money.

    You would be naive to believe they are all in it for free, but it is how you make that money and what you offer for getting a subscription.

  79. Agree about the need for people to see value for money in a subscription to cyber (or for that matter traditional) media Mobius Ecko. To that end, can you see how a premium sport site I used as an example above might be the sort of niche strategy that delivers a critical mass of paying customers?

  80. Hi scaper, fingers crossed that the new National Times is pointed in the right direction. It’s supposed to re-appear in August …

    The Age still breaks the odd snoop-story but it’s a major event rather than the regular occurence it once was.

  81. But Ray that is too limited for a news model. News is not a niche, it is mainstream. Once you make it niche and dole it out in quality and quantity based on the ability to pay then you will fail, as it will be bypassed by the mainstream.

    Remember AOL with the aid of the Bush administration wanted to make internet access a class based system, doling out content on the amount a subscriber pays, with the bottom feeders getting detritus that falls out from those above them. The packaged Pay TV model actually.

    Then what happens to third world and oppressed peoples who can only get news of any substance from online, often at great peril to themselves? Is Rupert like Google planning to kow tow to the oppressors and dictators of the world and only allow content on the ability to pay, which means the content the autocrats deem?

  82. Truth can be stranger than fiction in the new hybrid media landscape

    At the self-appointed quality-end of the spectrum, the ABC and Australian (with the honourable exception of Jack) blogs often stiffle contentious debate by chosing very-carefully the tone and content of posts they will accept.

    Andrew Bolt, whose politics are really not my cup of tea, runs all sorts of rants on his opinion blog and as a result readers sometimes get a robust exchange of ideas. It’s not very pretty – democracy is most definetly a messy business – but provocative ideas that run counter to Bolt’s stated position do get a run. Regularly. I respect him for that.

    Challenging ideas, preconceptions and assumptions is something Australia could do with a lot more of. All power to Blogocrats and Crikey, the progressive segment of the Australian media have not been functioning effectively for more than a decade.

  83. The Tyee is my favourite Canadian blog, a Blogocrats / Crikey crossover, that is serious and irreverent about news, views and lifestyle topics.

    Have a look here: http://thetyee.ca/

  84. Sorry Ray can’t agree with you on Bolt. He stifles debate and his snipers are always hard at work. What he allows as contrary is carefully chosen and based in a very narrow criticism band. Most other blogs have allowed far more criticism of them and open debate than Bolt ever has.

  85. I took up someone’s challenge and posted contrary comments at Bolt’s.

    It proves the bias of the person that issued that challenge.

    Bolt gets over a million hits a month…name me a blog that is more popular?

  86. Is Rupert like Google planning to kow tow to the oppressors and dictators of the world and only allow content on the ability to pay, which means the content the autocrats deem?

    IIRC Rupert has already been accused of something like shaping the news coverage in China according to the wishes of the regime, in return for access to that market. That’s one reason I won’t subscribe to Foxtel – that, and for bringing Fox News to the world.

  87. You are right Mobius, but the sports niche could attract serious number of paying punters and – don’t laugh – some of the revenue contributes to the journalistic functions that the News brands are going to be built on for the forseeable future.

    Entertainment, soft porn, celebrity pap, and financial services are other potentially large and/or lucrative niche markets that major news players could use to offset declining revenues from traditional sources and maintain free access to news and opinion content for their customers.

    Re developing world media access, I don’t even want to think about where the move online leaves people. Limited access to bandwidth and hardware, less tolerant legal systems and intimidating media surveillance are already a big deal today. Accordingly in South East Asia, the best you can hope for is Journal of Record style reporting on or offline. As my crystal ball is in for repairs, I ask how you think we could build a sustainable new media model that better served the majority of people on the planet?

    But the economic imperatives of the OECD media businesses suggest other big players will try variations of the AOL model you refer to. Then keep re-jigging their offerings until they find sustainable ways to deliver new – and conserve existing – revenue streams.

  88. Hi Mobius, I’m no expert on Mr Bolt but the odd time I’ve scrolled through I have seen contrary views. Yes there seem to be a heap of trolls that live there but a linear idea well stated can drive right over the bullies. They have the right to be wrong, yeah?

    Try finding assertively-stated contrary views on the ABC site. Sadly it’s a rarity. The content is mostly predictable, so is the angle they chose to cover. The ABC snipers are the sanctimonious hacks who simply don’t post stuff they don’t agree with. Auntie has been ravaged by managerialism and a circle of low IQs and it will take a lot more than a shot of botox to heal her wounds.

  89. Ray Hunt, on June 15th, 2009 at 7:15 pm Said:

    Brian Toohey continued his ‘without fear or favour’ approach after the Times closed down, with the book he wrote about ASIS.
    The government successfully went to court to try and prevent publication of what they considered sensitive material, having one piece censored and other parts reworded.

  90. IIRC Rupert has already been accused of something like shaping the news coverage in China according to the wishes of the regime, in return for access to that market. That’s one reason I won’t subscribe to Foxtel – that, and for bringing Fox News to the world.

    LOL. Lotharsson, you poor delicate petal. In a recent article in the New York Post, your and my favourite columnist wrote this about Fox News:

    I said some years ago that the genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting — half the American people.

  91. Thanks for the ProPublica link Lotharrson.

  92. Oops. NYPost link for my last comment.

  93. Tony, that Krauthammer speech was (unintentionally) hilarious, when divorced from his immediate audience.

    What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.


  94. Speaking of Krauthammer and his meme that the US media has been full of liberal bias for however many years…it was astonishing to me following the 2000 US election from within the US – reading almost every single news article accessible online for months – that colleagues would argue that the media had a heavy “liberal bias”. It clearly wasn’t true. It might be that a majority of journalists held personal liberal positions, something that seemed to clinch the argument for many who weren’t thinking very hard about it, but the _coverage_ was not biased accordingly. Bush’s whopping lies barely rated a mention, but Gore’s minor mis-remembrances were widely discussed (and used to impugn his character) for weeks on end. And so on and on…(see the Daily Howler from that period if you want lots of gory details).

    It’s all part of the well-developed conservative martyr myth. They can hold all three branches of government for several years with an almost totally cowed opposition, and STILL complain that they’re an oppressed political minority.

    That takes real chutzpah – or total self-deception.

  95. “That takes real chutzpah – or total self-deception.”

    Or both Lotharsson. History repeats as long as people have the endless turning news cycle to help them forget what the various overlords need them to forget.

  96. Mark, on June 16th, 2009 at 2:10 am Said:
    “have the endless turning news cycle to help them forget what the various overlords need them to forget.”

    So true. Some issues kept alive for decades, others killed soon after birth.

  97. That takes real chutzpah – or total self-deception.

    Another term Mr Rudd has promoted to the current-usage lexicon of Australian language. Or could it be that the event was being hosted by Frank Lowy, and this fits perfectly with his Zelig-like persona?

    “What a great day for Australian football that we as a people and as a nation could have the audacity, the sheer chutzpah, not to mention the organisational skill, to launch a bid to the greatest event on earth,” Rudd said.

  98. “could have the audacity, the sheer chutzpah, not to mention the organisational skill”

    If Rudd was going to demonstrate his linguistic capabilities perhaps he should have instead said,- the sheer audacity, the chutzpah,

  99. *with his Rudd’s Zelig-like persona?*

  100. Tony, hardly needed clarifying.
    On second thoughts, perhaps for some.

  101. You might be onto something scaper. Despite Tom’s shy and retiring personality, I feel he could grow into an effective shop steward for the Bloggers Union!

  102. Tom also writes a very smooth media release.

  103. The emerging role of the citizen journalist is one of the real upsides of media-changes driven by the internet.

    There are plenty of Blogocrat citizen journalists. They can be distinguished by a more irreverent and/or personal take on the news. I think they add to the spectrum of coverage, often exercising better news sense than, for example, the Canberra Gallery reporters who from time to time mistake staring at the entrails of a dead goat for a compelling story.

    But I don’t see citizen journalists replacing the professional variety, their role is keeping the hacks on their toes, introducing fresh stories onto the national news agenda and providing insights that might resonate more with the public.

    One new role professional journalists should be playing in the internet-era is as spin busters. Experience really helps when dealing with big business and government agencies. And if you think there is too much spin being sprouted today, there would be a heck of a lot more without the constant challenging and hectoring of authority figures by journalists who have the experience and time to keep chipping away.

    A lot of journalists do not challenge inconsistencies in the positions adopted by our public figures. And unchallenged, professional talking heads given an inch will take a mile.

    Two years ago the BBC banned its journalists from using ‘grabs’, the rehearsed short quotes that politicians and business people enjoy giving journalists to illustrate their position. Given our media is saturated with silly grabs 24/7, I would like to see us adopt the same ban. Grabs make for lazy journalism. They make it easy for the reporter to complete a story without necessary reflecting on the subject or making sure the finished copy is informative.

    Under the new BBC grab-free approach, reporters at least have to describe the story and the positions of the quoted players, without relying upon a dumb spokesperson formula that encourages colourful language and often misleading analogies that don’t necessarily convey any substantial meaning to consumers, or directly address an uncomfortable question that may be getting close to the bone.

    The classic spin-grab of a guilty person involves attacking the reporter – shooting the messenger – while not addressing the underlying question. Example: Mr President, what is your relationship with that intern? President: That’s a disgraceful question Malcolm and I’m not going to dignify it with a response.

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