Thursday, 6 August 2009

Paid Content rears its ugly head.

"Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good journalism,” - Rupert Murdoch 2009.

So the hours of debate, rolls of blog and endless tweets have finally resulted in something tangible. Murdoch has decided to charge for his site's content, starting sometime next summer. This means if you read the Times or the Sun (God help you) Fox news then you will have to chip in for the privilege in the future.

Or not. Murdoch is the first mogul to make this decision, and the rest of the industry is still umming and erring, so for now all you need to do is switch you online site for a different free one, there by giving Murdoch the biggest headache of his career. Or indeed wait for unhappy readers to log in, copy the content and give it away for free.

It seems he's made a tentative step towards paid content - no dates, no details, just a proverbial toe on the water. He has seen the NYTs failed attempt to charge for comment (they lost a large share of their readership), and although he must recognise its implications, has decided his model will work. He just doesn't seem to know what it is yet.

As Matthew Wells of the Guardian correctly points out, a major problem with the model is that however many companies take on such a model there will always be those that never will, and their share of online readership will come to dominate the market. In fact some already do - the BBC.

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