Howling mad Murdoch? The tale of Google and subscription based content

Paid for content? Removal of News International from Google in a matter of months? Murdoch yesterday repeated his comments about Google Search and is either, in his own words, ‘going to lead the industry’ into a brave new world, or stuff his business model up for good. Either that or he has a plan C….

One thing is for sure: the industry has a problem. Citizen journalism, online media, advances in technology and many, many other well trodden ‘challenges’ are hitting advertising revenues hard. Micro payments based on site visits is a solution that is worth considering. That way media channels are rewarded for providing rich and interesting content.

I for one would be happy to pay for a (small) licence from which micro payments are made to content providers of all shapes and sizes. While I love the free nature of the internet, I recognise quality content needs to be paid for. However, if Murdoch thinks users will subscribe to each of his news sites then I think he is going to run into trouble. Even if he consolidated all his titles into a Sky Broadcasting type package, the idea of subscribing is not that appealing.

For pure news outlets at least, the power (but maybe not income) is moving away from the media and back to the journalist, and bloggers are beginning to ‘monetise’ their sites. All journalists need now is training and cost effective technology.

For tabloid titles such as The Sun, the power is migrating to the celebrities. Famous faces are now the ‘intellectual property’ or content and it is the celebrities the tabloids contain, the likes of Jordan and Peter, that are generating income from the tabloids.

Anyway, by charging for content, Murdoch isn’t doing anything new. Manchester Confidential beat him to it and is charging for content. Apparently the move is going well. Good luck to them! It might work for niche or regional communities, of which Manchester Confidential is one, but I don’t think the same process will work for news outlets. Manchester Confidential offers readers more than just editorial, with offers and personal insight keeping its members coming back for more. Apart from MySpace, Murdoch is a long way from creating a similar offer.

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