Posts Tagged: digital media

Murdoch, I-Level and… Claudine dominate media in 2010

Vince Cable pictured in The Independent


In terms of
commercial media, 2010 was always going to be dominated by one man and one
company: Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation.

From the
outset we expected paywalls and bundled content offerings (Alesia) to be the
order of the day, but no one could have foreseen just where we find ourselves
today.

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Does Rupert Heseltine have the look of success?


After
interviewing Haymarket’s chairman Rupert Heseltine this week, which touched
upon life after the recession, The Times paywall and the future of publishing,
no less, there’s one comment I’m hearing more than any other: ‘doesn’t he look
like his dad?’

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News Int paywall creates around 200,000 digital sales

After
months of speculation, News International has finally unveiled figures for its
paywall experiment at The Times and the Sunday Times websites;
it has generated
105,000 digital-only sales and a further 100,000 print subscribers have activated
their digital accounts, since July.

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Why News Corp really pulled the plug on Project Alesia

News Corporation has been
forced to abandon plans for its eagerly anticipated digital news platform, part
of the company’s so called ‘Project Alesia’ initiative, citing runaway costs.

As we revealed this morning, bean-counters at Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate
have decided to pull the plug on the year-long activity when it was
expected to be finalised.

The decision is said to be
absolute: this is not a delay, or grand standing or being placed on hold; this
an entire, dedicated News Corp UK
operation being dismantled just days before a product was due to go to market.

So what’s going on at
the media conglomerate?

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Publishing failures unite at AOP 2010

Attending
the 9th annual AOP Digital Publishing Summit in Westminster
today proved to be something of a milestone for the UK’s media industry.

Unlike many
in the room, I remember the association’s first outing back in 2002. The dotcom
bubble had just bust and its messy entrails were still being discovered. The
room of mostly traditional newspaper and magazine publishers were still
understandably nervous about the implications of the web on their businesses.

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The Observer becomes market leader in one f’ing ranking

The Observer might be battling sluggish circulations since its revamp in February, down 21% year on year in last ABCs, but the Sunday paper is the undisputed leader when it comes to four-letter abuse and general swearing.

Much to the disgust of The Observer’s readers’ editor, Stephen Pritchard, up to the early August 2010, the Sunday paper has published 272 articles with the word “f*ck” and 13 using the word “c*nt”. [Belated apologies for those of you with a sensitive disposition, but you’re in the wrong business.]

In contrast, the Independent on Sunday ran 122 pieces containing “f*ck” and 10 “c*nt”, while the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph were both profanity-free, in accordance with their editorial guidelines.

Following the chart-topping performance, Pritchard takes some solace in the fact these figures nevertheless represent a vast improvement on the previous before, when The Observer turned the air blue by printing “f*ck” 293 times and “c*nt” 25.

The relative clean-up of the newspaper’s copy is one of the few positive side-effects of this year’s staff cull, which resulted in the closure of the three monthly magazines, Observer Woman, Sport Monthly and Music Monthly.

It would appear the paper still has some way to go to appease some of its less liberal contingent though. Pritchard himself admits: “…I have a visceral dislike of seeing these words in the pages of a newspaper that is read by all ages.

“I don’t go along with the argument that the Observer is a grown-up newspaper for grown-up people. Everything we write appears on the internet and is accessible, free, to anyone, whether they are nine or 90…

“I would far rather we adopted the policy of some of our rivals and expunged swearing entirely.”

Well quite Stephen. But before you get too green-eyed, do bear in mind that if you were working at rival News International, your content would be neither accessible or free, but rather hidden behind a paywall.

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Are we all in the brown stuff if Times paywall fails?

For a media
hack like me, it’s had more twists and turns and dragged out longer than
the final series of Lost; and the budget-busting climax is still yet to come.

This week’s launch of the repurposed
websites for The Times and now standalone Sunday Times are nothing short of a
landmark in the evolution of the British Press industry.

It is the first major step on the
path to News International’s phased introduction of online paywalls. The idea of charging people to
access content online was first aired by Rupert Murdoch last summer, and the
debate over the viability of the model has been raging ever since.

Erecting paywalls around daily
news may yet prove to be “completely antithetical” to the way the web works, as eloquently expressed by The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger.

His position appeared to be bolstered by research published this week which found that most consumers (91%) would be
unwilling to pay £1 a day or £2 a week to access the Times Online. Only 5% said they would pay £2 for a week’s digital
subscription, although a further
4% said they would pay £1 for a day’s access.

And it was not just The Times that the public would be unwilling
to pay for. Give or take
one or two percentage points, the proportion unwilling to pay was the same for
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Independent.

Meanwhile, speaking at last month’s PPA Magazine Conference, Stevie Spring, the chief
executive of Future, noted that Murdoch’s paywalls “break the basic rules of
marketing”.

Her basic premise
is that the world is moving towards two types of content-led product – ‘access-only’ and
what she termed “collectable artefacts” (like printed magazines) – with the web largely falling into the access-only camp, meaning people
will view the content if they can but rarely find it unique enough, or essential enough, to
pay for.

News International’s
management team are acutely aware of the very real dangers of slipping into a
“vault of darkness”
once payment is required, but are ploughing on
regardless.

“If it doesn’t work
than I’m in the sh*t,” joked News
Int’s commercial chief Paul Hayes
at a Brand Media event last week.
Reminding me of the old adage ‘many a true word spoken in jest’.

But the buck doesn’t stop
with Hayes, or even News International.

It’s hold your breath time for thousands working in the news business, and the many more studying on the many
oversubscribed journalism courses across the country.

Just yesterday outgoing chief executive Carolyn McCann warned of pre-tax losses at Guardian Media Group for the 12 months to March will be larger than the £90m plummet a year earlier.

Quality journalism
costs
money and it is significant that Guardian
News & Media’s MD Tim Brooks refused to rule out following Murdoch

if it proves successful.

I’m mindful that by the time the main protagonists finally realised how Lost was to going to play out, they discovered they were already dead. Let’s hope the press industry doesn’t leave it so long.

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