Thursday, 6 August 2009

Paid-for content: Will the regionals follow suit?

Much excitement in Medialand today about Rupert Murdoch's announcement that, from next summer, he will charge people to read his newspapers' websites.

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford reckons it could herald a new 'Murdoch Revolution' 23 years on from the one that crushed the print unions, completing the transformation of the 'Dirty Digger' from UK journalism's public enemy number one to its potential saviour.

We've not covered the story on HTFP thus far because, as things stand, it's a strictly national newspaper story, but it is certainly going to have big implications for the regional press further down the line.

If Murdoch, against the odds, can find a way of making money from online content - regarded as something of a Holy Grail in the industry - it is hard to believe the regionals won't eventually follow suit, but we're in unchartered waters here to some extent.

My own instinct tells me that while Murdoch may well find a way to successfully monetise 'exclusive' content such as The Sun's celebrity scoops and The Times' star columnists, it is going to be very hard to do likewise with hard news, in view of the sheer number of free-to-air news sources out there - and I'm not just talking about the BBC.

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