If Rupert Murdoch has his way, you won’t be able to Google a headline and get all the story links available for that news piece. According to Mr. Murdoch, “We need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high-quality, reliable news and information does not come free. Good journalism is an expensive commodity.”
Some of the ideas being discussed were:
- Tax credits for media companies
- Making media companies tax exempt entities
- Copyright law changes to force online aggregators and search engines to pay for any content or links to that content for which they provide links or summaries.
Murdoch has even suggested forcing Google to pull links off its site to any stories, articles or coverage produced by his media companies.
Some major newspapers have been developing plans to charge people to read some of the stories on their web sites. BusinessWeek is considering publishing an online edition that is only available to subscribers. The Wall Street Journal is already requiring a subscription if a web surfer wants to read a full version of any of their articles online. Mr. Murdoch is trying to block all of the Journal’s content from Google or have them pay for any links to the publication’s articles or other content.
It is obvious that the print media will not be viable for many more years. And in order for them to survive they will have to come up with a more efficient business model. I think we tend to take our news for granted because of the pervasiveness of its availability on the net. If we want to learn more about a breaking story all we have to do is a quick search and there will be links to more stories than we could possibly read.
Journalism Online, a startup that is developing a payment system for newspapers and magazines will begin shipping its software to publishers before the end of the year. The company has not published its list of test sites, but they did say that over 1300 newspapers and magazines would be testing their software in the coming months.
Will this save the newspapers? I doubt it because there will be too many alternative news sites will offer similar content. Of course, the major newspapers that already have a decent following could very well remain viable using a subscription based revenue model, ie. The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.
The smaller newspapers will most likely go away, if they haven’t already. There are a couple of large internet entities that are soliciting news gatherers from around the country to provide local news in those areas lacking coverage. Yahoo and theExaminer come to mind.
There is no doubt that the journalism business requires massive overhead and only the strongest news organizations will survive. Who will they be and what model will they have to adopt in order to stay in business? Bottom line is that they will have to come up with a business model that keeps them profitable.
Specialized news organizations like business and industry specific newspapers and magazines will find it easier to adapt to a subscription model. I believe that journals like BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal can successfully adapt to this model.
The more general news gatherers will have to find a different model to use. In the past, advertising was the revenue engine for these entities. I believe advertising could still be the revenue driver for these organizations, but it will have to be a new, innovative technology driven model and parallel the online content that it precedes. As I mentioned in my previous blog on web advertising, it will probably come in the form of a 15 second spot or advertorial that the reader will have to view in order to read the content they selected.
Oh, by the way, Rupert Murdoch recently had discussions with Microsoft about making Google de-list News Corps publications from its search results and allowing only Microsoft’s Bing search engine to list them. Currently Google delivers about 25% of News Corps. traffic. This makes no sense. Online news distribution by search engines have increased competition and resulted in better efficiencies for all concerned. One columnist suggested that this was tantamount to making the paper boy pay a fee for delivering the newspaper. You can’t make this stuff up.
I still believe that news organizations should allow all of their content to be listed on search engines, as well as summarized and linked on various aggregators’ sites. That is really the best way to increase exposure across the board for both the publication and the content. Of course, there has to be a revenue component gained from such exposure. That ad revenue needs to be generated at he site of origination. There are plenty of brilliant marketers and technologists out there. I am convinced they will find a way.
by Mac McKinley, BoomerOpinion.com