News on news

We discuss the case of the Guardian Media Group’s foray into e-business in Long Case 6.2. The past few weeks have seen an enormous amount of attention and angst devoted to News International’s proposals – about to be implemented – to put a paywall around the UK Times and Sunday Times websites. £1 a day or £2 a week, after a free trial period. As someone remarked, that’s not far off the price of the BBC license fee in a year. I’m sure that I’ll be writing more about this as the evidence builds up one way or the other about the viability of this model for anything other than niche publications. That aside, a fascinating internal memo has been leaked from the desk of Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger, setting out his take on the situation – and no doubt seeking to reassure those working on the paper that the correct decisions have been made! You’ll find it below.

Rusbridger Email


The end of the world as we’ve known it … but not just yet

January saw the publication of consultancy firm Deloitte’s annual TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) predictions. Three publications are available for free download in each of the three component areas of the firm’s practice. Whilst generally long on assertion and anecdote and somewhat shorter on detailed evidence, the reports are aimed at ‘starting or stoking a particular conversation’ rather than stopping it, according to lead TMT Partner Jolyon Barker. Of particular interest for me in the Media Predictions report is the more measured approach Deloitte is taking to some of the hyperbolic debates over trends and business models in this area: for example, online vs TV advertising; prospects for e-readers; buzz over 3D TV; the reality of TV/web integration. This is refreshing. It’s not a wholesale ‘out with the old and in with the new’ conclusion, but a recognition that the future of media business models and promotional mechanisms is much more complex and nuanced. The notion that ‘linear’s got legs’ (linear watching of TV according to schedules, rather than wholesale on demand through such vehicles as the BBC iPlayer) is an especially interesting discussion. And the fightback of publishing through the introduction of pay walls and micropayments (although the jury is still out on their acceptability) is also an analysis worth reading.

The real story on newspaper circulation

The conventional wisdom has it that newspaper circulation is in terminal decline, thanks to the Internet. There is considerable debate about possible business models, ranging from free online/charge for hard copy, to charge online/free hard copy to everything in between, including micropayments. It’s always useful to go back and look at the data. Here’s a link to a blog entry which graphs the Audit data for US newspaper circulation since 1990. It makes for fascinating reading. Look at the Wall Street Journal. And the New York Post. What do you take from this ‘longer term’ view?