So it’s really happening: although you’d be pushed to find the news on its own website, Rupe’s supposedly flagship Times will, come June, charge for access to that site. As with charging for sport on Sky, the numbers may stack up even if as many as 95% of the current audience decide to get their web news elsewhere: sums of almost two million quid a month from the remaining users have been pitched.
But that assumes a regular subscription from all of the 5%. Anyone who had previously looked in occasionally – and I’d be in that category – might not consider the one pound “daily pass” or two quid “weekly pass” worth their while, not when the content of the Maily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent and Beeb was still free to view. But Murdoch and his loyal footsoldiers have determined that journalism has a value which can be recouped through making websites pay per view.
And there are those swallowing Rupe’s line. But the founder of the original Internet Newspaper, The Huffington Post, has already warned Murdoch that he doesn’t get the new media. In a speech delivered on 1st December last, titled “Journalism 2009: Desperate Metaphors, Desperate Revenue Models, And The Desperate Need For Better Journalism”, Arianna Huffington debunks the Murdoch demonisation of aggregators, noting that the HuffPo also provides its own original journalism and a raft of featured blogs.
Moreover, that original content is in turn quoted by other aggregators, linked to by yet more blogs, and discussed and disseminated by even more commenters. Shutting a newspaper, or group of newspapers, away behind a paywall also shuts them out of that process. That potentially vicious circle of neglect is exactly what Murdoch doesn’t get.
Not that you would see any of the supposedly leading Tory supporting blogs making the same point, though. The one post I saw earlier today on the subject of the Murdoch paywall looks to have been pulled – no names, no packdrill – and elsewhere all is quiet.
Why should that be?