Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Roll Up, Roll Up, Get Your Free News Here!

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently announced that all his online publishers would begin to charge for news content, so he’s not going to be very happy with today’s findings. New research has found that only 5% of people would be prepared to pay for their web content, with a massive 74% saying they would simply find an alternative, free provider.

Rightly or wrongly, in this digital age, we have become used to getting things for free online. The only surprise for me here is that as many as 5% of people would be happy to pay for their news. If the music and film industries can’t stop people downloading illegally (even with those scary adverts about funding terrorism), I can’t imagine that people will take kindly to having to pay for news.

Newspaper sales have taken a battering over the last few years, due mostly to the availability of free news online, so I can see why Murdoch would be keen to generate more money. What he seems to be missing, though, is that while consumers can’t create their own newspapers and hand them around, they can share news on the internet. What’s more, it’s easy, fast and we’re all doing it anyway! I don’t think I’ve ever gone to The Times website to see what’s going on in the world, but I have been directed there by Facebook, Twitter, blogs, my RSS feed… the list is endless. It won’t take anybody very long to find an alternative news source that doesn’t cost money.

As The Guardian asks (on its free website, which I found via Twitter): is 5% readership enough to offset the decline in advertising revenue that would come with putting news site behind a pay wall? Time will tell…

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