Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rupert Murdoch on Journalism and Freedom

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch gave an interesting speech to the FTC last week that was reprinted in the Wall St. Journal (which he owns, of course). Entitled, "Journalism and Freedom: Government assistance is a greater threat to the press than any new technology," the speech makes the point that technology allows us to represent readers' interest and give them the news that's important to them" on a much greater scale.

Nothing new there, but Murdoch makes several interesting points:
  • "Media companies need to give people the news they want. I can't tell you how many papers I have visited where they have a wall of journalism prizes—and a rapidly declining circulation. This tells me the editors are producing news for themselves—instead of news that is relevant to their customers. A news organization's most important asset is the trust it has with its readers, a bond that reflects the readers' confidence that editors are looking out for their needs and interests."
  • "Quality content is not free. In the future, good journalism will depend on the ability of a news organization to attract customers by providing news and information they are willing to pay for."
  • "In the new business model, we will be charging consumers for the news we provide on our Internet sites. The critics say people won't pay. I believe they will, but only if we give them something of good and useful value. Our customers are smart enough to know that you don't get something for nothing."
The rest of the article basically argues that the government should not step in and help newspapers, as it did with the auto industry and banking sector. That seems to be self-serving, and I'm not going to address that.

But the points about business models and delivery methods (cross-platform, not the old fashioned paper route) are worthwhile. It will be a difficult transition, I think, to get people to pay for content.

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