Murdoch And AP: ‘It’s Payback Time’

Not sure if I’m an aggregator, kleptomaniac or plagiarist but here goes. What follows are several very interesting quotes lifted from an Associated Press wire story hosted on Google.

First up: Tom Curley, AP’s chief exec:

We content creators have been too slow to react to the free exploitation of news by third parties without input or permission.

We will no longer tolerate the disconnect between people who devote themselves — at great human and economic cost — to gathering news of public interest and those who profit from it without supporting it.

And now the words of News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch:

The aggregators and plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid content, it will be the content creators — the people in this hall — who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs who triumph.

I’ll let the rest of the blogosphere froth. I need to call my lawyer.

UPDATE: Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land provides a pretty thorough dissection of both Curley and Murdoch’s speeches.

Poll Shocker: Newspaper Readers Still Not Willing To Pay Online

You may recall a survey over on The Media Blog last month which found that few UK consumers would be willing to pay for content they can currently access for free.

At the time the survey of 1,000 Media Blog readers was criticised in some quarters for being self-selective, a not unreasonable charge even if other criticisms didn’t quite hit the mark.


Interesting to see, then, that an oh, so kosher paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll broadly reflects the earlier findings.

Asked what they would do if their favourite news site starts charging:

  • 74 per cent said they would find another free site
  • 8 per cent said they would use its free headlines
  • 5 per cent  said they would pay to continue using it
  •  12 per cent said they weren’t sure

Back to The Media Blog. When respondents were asked about Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in particular:

An overwhelming 75 per cent of consumers said they do not believe any of the three UK News International newspapers produce the kind of content which cannot easily be found elsewhere.

Hearts and minds, Rupert. Hearts and minds.

‘No Branding Or Devotion – Only Utility.’

new_york_timesSo wrote Peter Preston in his weekly ‘Press and Broadcasting’ column for the Observer.

The piece by the former Guardian editor is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the future of newspapers in an online world.

Why? Because he challenges a key assumption about success online – namely the importance of the willy-waving “I’ve got more unique users than you” position.

Taking figures from the United States (“because Nielsen collects them with continuous, detailed authority”), Preston looks at the amount of time American web users spend online in the company of newspaper websites.

And it’s not a pretty picture: the average visitor devotes just 38 minutes and 24 seconds a month on one, or more likely more than one, newspaper site.

And remember only one third of the US universe of users visits a newspaper site at all.

As Preston points out this means “the average New York Times print reader spends roughly as long with his paper a day as the average NYT net user spends online in a month”. For the record, that’s 29 minutes 57 seconds.

Preston argues that this lack of face time is a reflection of user mode when surfing – clicking through in pursuit of some fact or picture: “no brand or devotion: only utility”. 

If these site visit times don’t strike you as too bad, consider how you would make money from them. In Preston’s words:

What price nine minutes and nine seconds over a month for average visiting time to the New York Post site Rupert Murdoch hopes to charge for? (Not much of a revenue stream at 19 seconds a day!)

The Future Of Newspapers, It’s In The Bag
The Wire’s David Simon: ‘Newspapers Must Go Behind Paywall’
Free is just another cover price
 – What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

The Sun, Katie Price And Political Delusions

It's The Sun Wot Won It 2

(Update 30 Sep 2009: The Sun ditches Gordon Brown and backs David Cameron. Read more)

As The Sun ushers in a new editor today the debate continues over how much political clout the country’s leading red top really exerts.

Certainly Gordon Brown and David Cameron continue to flirt with Rupert Murdoch in the hope of winning his favour, the furtive glances ever more urgent as we approach a 2010 general election.

We know our history, too. The Sun saw off Neil Kinnock in 1992 (‘If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’ etc), and a timely leader endorsing Labour ensured Tony Blair’s coronation in 1997. That’s the way it’s told, at least.

Trevor Kavanagh, the paper’s associate editor, made a strong case for The Sun’s continuing influence speaking on the Today Programme this morning. His readers, he said, may not be party political in the way they were in the 1980s and 1990s but they are, nonetheless, politically active:

“[Our readers] are deeply interested in the ingredients of politics. They are interested in the crime on the streets, they’re interested in Afghanistan and the way the war has been fought there … and how they get to work in gridlocked Britain.”

And yet, there has always been a suspicion that readers of The Sun buy the paper for the sport, celebrity and page 3. Politics (big P or small p) is merely filler.

In the pre-internet days that was simply a thesis. But let’s consider today’s five most read stories on The Sun website and ask whether the Westminster obsession might just be a delusion:

The Sun Most Read

The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?
Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’
What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?

Don’t Write That Freesheet Obituary Just Yet

You may recall earlier this week how a picture of Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alistair Campbell featured erroneously on another man’s obituary. Well, expect his name to be added to Wikipedia’s list of premature obits any time soon.

Another entry for that list? The freesheet.

Despite the demise of thelondonpaper, the layoffs at the Metro and fashionable talk of paid-for online content, the freesheets has still got a lot of life in its lungs.

As I argue in my latest piece for – Free is just another cover price – :

thelondonpaper isn’t closing because the model was flawed but because News International either couldn’t make it work in the current economic climate or was unwilling to give a paper, still in its infancy, the time it needed to become commercially viable.

Not to mention that it was only ever designed to be a spoiler (which may mean that the spoiler’s spoiler, aka London Lite, may go the same way).

Regardless, if you want to know why you’ll still get mugged by a freesheet vendor at a station near you, continue reading: Free is just another cover price.

Born Free: Why the free-sheets’ law of the jungle is a joke
Scarcity, Abundance And The Misapprehension Of Online Advertising

thelondonpaper’s Demise: Word From The Blogosphere

thelondonpaper_2News that Rupert Murdoch’s News International is to close the capital’s freesheet thelondonpaper prompted an outpouring on the blogosphere and the Twittersphere – analysis, opinion and some insight from those who worked on the paper.

David Brown was part of the launch team and he remembers “the genuine pride” on the day it went live in September 2006. That despite the obvious lack of resources.

Writing on The Media Blog (for which I’m also a contributor), Brown notes:

Although News International poured millions into the product, the feeling that things were being done on a shoestring was never far away. Many of the staff were put on shorter, one-month notice periods and given different pension rights and lesser benefits than others in the News International stable.

Another member of the 2006 launch team James Seddon says the writing was on the wall from the very start – and Rupert Murdoch’s recent conversion for paid-for online content merely confirmed thelondonpaper’s demise.

Seddon notes: 

Apparently when the dummy copy was presented to Murdoch by the paper’s editor, his response was that you could charge 10p for it – an anecdote that was repeated with an ‘oh Dad, what are you like, you silly old codger?’ tone. So if he didn’t get ‘free’ then, it’s no surprise he dropped the paper when times were tough.

It’s a theme taken up by Gordon Macmillan, editor of Brand Republic. While acknowledging “no one thing killed thelondonpaper”, he writes:

Given that News Corporation has stated that it intends to charge for all forms of online content, a free newspaper and its free website makes ever less sense. Maybe this is the reason that the website will close along with the print title.

I’m not sure that reading of the situation is right. Even if Murdoch does go down the paid for route, he’s not going to rid himself of the free competition simply by closing one of his own titles.

There’s a place for free online and a title covering a mix of general news, London listings, sport and celebrity seems to fit that model.

Despite the trend for paywalls, micropayments and the rest, the ad-supported model will continue to work in certain situation. And I’m sure Murdoch knows that. (see: What if the business model for news ain’t broke? for more on this)

David Brown for one defends the original business proposition:

In terms of economics, the concept of opening up a way for advertisers to target the pockets of the all-important 20-35 commuter demographic … made sense.

There was, however, at least one silver lining. As’s Laura Oliver noted on Twitter:

@LauraOliver oh well, will no longer need to agonise over whether its the london paper/thelondonpaper/The London Paper etc

thelondonpaper Folds. Capital-Centric Media Bias Alive And Well On Twitter.
Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’

Rupert Murdoch, chair and CEO of News Corp, emerged from his bunker yesterday to face the media.

Well, one media outlet at least – Fox News (proprietor: Mr R. Murdoch).

A good opportunity, then, to quiz the great man about the goings-on in another part of his empire, namely News International’s News of the World.

This is how that particular exchange played out:

Fox Anchor: “Mr Chairman sir, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it.”

Rupert Murdoch: “Fine, good afternoon.”

Fox Anchor: “The story that’s really buzzing all around the country and certainly here in New York is that the News of the World, a News Corporation newspaper in Britain used…”

Rupert Murdoch: “I’m not talking about that issue at all today. Sorry.”

Fox Anchor: “Okay. No worries Mr Chairman, that’s fine with me.”

And the great inquest was over.

Fox News – fair and balanced. And awfully nice to the boss.


The Guardian, News Of The World And The Other Side Of Scoops
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?
Free is just another cover price

(Pretty) funny:
One Of The Best Photo Captions Ever
Is This The Best Use of Post-It Notes Ever?