Skip to comments.Winds howl over the deserted moonscape behind Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper paywalls
Posted on 07/17/2010 6:05:09 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
Winds howl over the deserted moonscape behind Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper paywalls
Newser's Michael Wolff has a report from behind Rupert Murdoch's notorious UK paywalls which went up this month around The Times and Sunday Times's sites, which are apparently ghost-towns, unpeopled even by the print subscribers who get free access but can't be arsed to log in (and never follow links to Times stories, since chances are anyone in a position to make such a link doesn't have an account for the site).
The wider implications of this emptiness are only just starting to become clear. A Murdoch and Fleet Street veteran with whom I've been corresponding about the paywall reported to me on his recent conversation with an A-list entertainment publicist: "What was really interesting to me was that this person volunteered a blinding realization. 'Why would I get any of my clients to talk to the Times or the Sunday Times if they are behind a paywall? Who can see it? I can't even share a link and they aren't on search. It's as though their writers don't exist anymore...'"
What's Really Going on Behind Murdoch's Paywall?
(Image: Desert Moon Rising, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joshsommers's photostream)
abb, for your Dinosaur Media pinglist.
Jim, you might get a kick out of this one...
People aren’t going to pay for that. That is why you have advertisers. Either pay to subscribe and not be bothered with ads, or put it out there and have the advertisers carry the costs.
Long Island Newsday tried this, also giving free access to subscribers and to cable subscribers (same company) and very very very few people paid for access.
Rupert thought he could just demand “payment” from the reading public to ‘see’ what his writers were going to write.
How gay is this?
Guess they felt they should just butt out
Which makes a publisher more money:
* a paid site, with no subscribers,
* a free site, with no paying subscribers?
The revenue problem for online publishers was created by trying to be too clever (and greedy) by half in selling advertising. The idea that they could get more revenue from ads by making them adaptive to the user made ad-block software possible: the moment advertising comes in from another site, or is inserted by a program that reads the user’s location or browser history to decide what ad to display, and isn’t just there in the html for the page, ad-block software can detect it, users don’t have to look at it, and the value of selling online ads plummets.
Just sell ads relevant to your core readership and “typeset” them on the page same as in print and ad-blocking becomes if not impossible, at least difficult without risking “false positives” that suppress actual content. Of course, not typesetting ads with blink tags, moving gifs, content requiring plug-ins, tasteless content, etc. will also keep you from annoying readers and driving them to other sites.
The only way this works is if every news site does it, but they are busy cutting each other’s throats.
Several media sites in France and Italy have done as you suggested. All ads, though sourced from doubleclick googleads or whoever, is served up through the root domain server and is attached to important parts of the site in the served html, say the blogroll or sections linkbanner.
I expect to see more of this in the future.
You just put your ham hand on the problem ~ to be, or not to be!
You know, in 1900 every major city in America and Europe had a dozen breweries, each owned by a different owner. Today 4 companies (AB-InBev, SAB-Miller, Heineken, Carlsbrug) control 50% of the beer making in the world, there are a profusion of tiny craft brewers and the mid-size brewers (Molson-Coors, Groupo Modelo, Kirin, etc.) will continue to get squeezed and acquired by the bigger brewers.
Substitute “NewsCorp”, “New York Times”, “Telegraph” and “Guardian” for the big brewer names above and “bloggers/websites” for craft brewers in the above example and you have the future of the English language news media. Ultimately, web supported advertising will carry the news business, through a combination of cost cutting and competitor acquisition.
I tend to agree with you.
For a short period, American and European newspapers had true correspondents, that being expats, diplomats or businessmen in the diaspora who would report back events to the home country population through articles to the native newspaper of choice.
That’s the only seedling of a possibility I see for a sustainable model for independent media that doesn’t include a few decades of further consolidation.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to hear it, did it really make a sound?
If a radio show was broadcast and no one listened, was it ever really on the air?
If a new story is published behind a paywall that no one subscribes to, was it really news?
did Hemingway write that title?