Friday 4 June 2010

Another Reason Why Murdoch's Paywall Will Fail

. . . is that the writing is garbage. This, from today's Times:

"It is understood that John Gerson, BP’s director of security and public affairs and a former deputy head of MI6, will appraise officials from the No 10 Policy Unit"

Will he indeed ? We await his appraisal with interest: perhaps in due course the Times will let us know what he finds.

In the meantime, you won't catch me paying for that.



Raedwald said...

In another cringe-making piece today, a profile of WOII Mick Flynn CGM MC, Squadron Corporal-Major, Blues and Royals, an arse of a Times reporter named Damian Whitworth refers to him throughout as Major - no doubt earning Mr Flynn a great deal of wigging. What's worse, the dreadful subs have titled it in the same way.

Not worth paying a penny for.

roym said...

i'd love to see both the paywall and the idiot's gadget du jour the ipad fail.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I've always assumed that The Times will make it free again in a few months' time.

Demetrius said...

I always quite liked the cartoons, but not at a quid a time. When will Desmond take it over and merge editorial and other staffs with the Express and Sun (if he takes it over?).

Sebastian Weetabix said...

@Raedwald - that piece had me fuming as well. As a former military man I have come to the reluctant conclusion we need to bring back national service. Apart from the obvious benefits of the Army giving hoodies a comprehensive education to make up for their comprehensive education, it would be helpful if the "elite" of our society were exposed to some of life's realities. Then newspaper journos wouldn't call Warrant Officers Majors or give house room to daft ideas like totty in the front line or equal access to military careers for the disabled. (I was once at a dinner party where a lefty loony told me, with a straight face, that you could get 4WD wheelchairs now and therefore the Army would be able to accommodate the disabled.)

roym - you should go and buy iPads immediately. Every one that is sold uses about $0.40 of my company's material. Please, help make a British business that bit richer. It's your patriotic duty.

mark said...

We all seem agreed that a paywall for The Times will be a flop then.

It might work for the WSJ but not the Times. Even if the other broadsheets follow the BBC wont.

I can't see The Times surviving as part of Murdoch's empire because he likes things to make a profit.

I think that the future of all broadsheet newspapers (excluding the FT) is as the play things of billionaires (similar to football clubs really) who can for what is chump change to them subsidise papers to run at a loss in exchange for getting to appoint an editor and getting their views across.

Not necessarily the best in terms of journalistic independence but better than the unemployment queue and is the best chance I see of journalists ever getting a decent wage going forward.

Elby the Beserk said...

It's my belief that, smart as the old coot Murdoch is, he doesn't understand that the reading of a paper online is utterly different to the reading of a bought one.

I very rarely buy papers these days; when I do, I do as I always have done. Start with the sport, and then work from the front page onwards. In more than one session often.

Online, I behave completely differently, and may skip from one paper to another, or follow the cricket on one or another - or the Beeb.

So why would anyone want to shell out for that? As noted, there are few good writers on the Times. I enjoy Matthew Parris, but, again, wouldn't pay a pound to read him.

It won't work. I am convinced of that. After all, the news is everywhere, so the content has to be worth shelling out for. Not online. No way.

Andrew B said...

It appears to be the slow destruction of an entire way of life.
Until the Observer shrank,I used to buy it just to read William Keegan. I started buying it because my parents did, and I read it because they left it lying around.
There are a few problems:
- You cannot leave a web page lying around for your children to pick up, and discover its value by themselves.
- I would never start to pay for the Observer/Times etc online or offline without knowing I wanted to read it - effectively having read it for nothing for years.

In other words how do you discover you want this thing called a newspaper if you never see or hear about one.

- We all deeply object to start paying for something we used to get for nothing.

There are so many other sources that are effectively free (BBC)

For individual journalists:
So, how does the promising, unknown young voice become known behind a paywall?

My answer is that you will need another job where you can become known.

For newspapers:
How do you survive behind a paywall?

My answer is that you wont unless you have a strong print edition (that can be passed around) and completely excel in some area (FT, The Economist, The Lancet)

... or you make everyone else hide behind a paywall too.

Nick Drew said...

Radders, SW - that's a shocker

(I well remember Corporal-Major McCloughlin @ Sandhurst, he would have had an opinion on this, he and his Size 10 DMS had something forceful to say on most topics)

roym, MW, Demetrius - yup we are agreed

Mark, Elby, Andrew - yes it is interesting to ruminate on the dynamics of all this. Seems to me the Spectator has got it right - lots of free bloggish content, as a warm-up act for decent premium content. The FT surely has a defensible premium product, as does the Economist - though both have flailed around over the years trying to figure out how to handle it

For individual journalists ...

there is the interesting and very current case of 'Penny Red' (Laura Penny), a 'struggling' (and very stroppy) young writer, who writes very well (though her content is generally execrable)

she has just been given a paying column by the New Statesman, after several months of hard blogging and other profile-raising efforts

so it can be done