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UK Newspaper Websites To Become Nearly Invisible 454

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-news-for-you dept.
smooth wombat writes "Various websites have tried to make readers pay for access to select parts of their sites. Now, in a bid to counter what he claims is theft of his material, Rupert Murdoch's Times and Sunday Times sites will become essentially invisible to web users. Except for their home pages, no stories will show up on Google. Starting in late June, Google and other search engines will be prevented from indexing and linking to stories. Registered users will still get free access until the cut off date."
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UK Newspaper Websites To Become Nearly Invisible

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  • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @04:55AM (#32359284)

    People getting news will find other sources, and the advertising revenue will go to whomever to the competition.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @04:58AM (#32359302)

      Exactly. If Merdouche doesn't want to offer news for free, he'll be undercut by others who do.

      • by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:32AM (#32359494)

        'Merdouche'! V. good. :)

      • by Blue Stone (582566) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:37AM (#32360560) Homepage Journal

        He will be undercut by others, but he'll also use his business model failure to attack the BBC: "Unfair competition! An honest businessman like me can't make a go of it with the likes of the BBC supplying news, with it's massive and unfair state subsidy! Do something about it Dave [Cameron (UK PM)] or I'll say nasty things about your party in my many, many [still bought, for some reason] print newspapers! Ya Fuckin' bitch! [The PMs of the UK all want to wiggle their bottoms suggestively for Murdoch].

        Hopefully, there'll be enough other newspapers who haven't gone down this route of a paywall who will be able to discredit his (IMO) inevitable lies.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by silentcoder (1241496)

          >He will be undercut by others, but he'll also use his business model failure to attack the BBC: "Unfair competition! An honest >businessman like me can't make a go of it with the likes of the BBC supplying news, with it's massive and unfair state subsidy! Do >something about it Dave [Cameron (UK PM)] or I'll say nasty things about your party in my many, many [still bought, for some reason] >print newspapers! Ya Fuckin' bitch! [The PMs of the UK all want to wiggle their bottoms suggestively for

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by thogard (43403)

          I suspect he has been talking about the paywall for so long as an attempt to give others enough time to build theirs own too. Any newspaper that competes with him would be silly not to have looked into just in case it works and he gave them enough time to build it. So if he turns his on and reports he is getting subscribers, then others may follow. If he hadn't given them time, they would be forced to survive while competing with everyone else who would be forced to provide free content until they built

        • by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:01PM (#32364196) Homepage Journal

          I've been wanting to post this for a while:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1aZcsY-O8Q [youtube.com]

          Comes from a sketch show called A Bit of Fry and Laurie starring, you might have guessed, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The clip shows that Murdoch has been slinging mud at the BBC since the dawn of ti... well, since the early 90's when Sky TV was getting a foothold. It's a tad exaggerated, but the thought of a UK without a BBC and full of Murdochian bile fills me with dread.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @04:59AM (#32359306)

      I'm sure they'll change their mind when traffic to their website nosedives and they lose their advertising revenue; by then it may be too late.

      • by dintech (998802) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:36AM (#32359518)

        Yeah it's a bit stupid but then dinosaurs always did have small brains.

        • by siloko (1133863) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:00AM (#32359948)

          Yeah it's a bit stupid but then dinosaurs always did have small brains.

          I agree it's stupid. But usually stupid stuff is comprehensible or funny - this is neither. I am absolutely incredulous that a multi-million dollar organisation like News International has surveyed the current situation regarding the provision of news and decided the best thing for it is a paywall. It just beggars belief. How the fuck do these guys even feed themselves let alone run a business!?

          • by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:41AM (#32361258)

            Well, Not to defend the News Corp decision, because I do disagree with it, but we have to admit, the oldline news services are in a bit of a bind.

            They are used to being able to make money both on the front end (Selling newspapers and/or subscriptions) and on the back end (selling ads that are placed in their newspapers or via TV sponsors.) With the rise of the internet, New Media sources are eating into their reader/viewership and thus their bottom line.

            The real issue for the old media sources is that many internet news "sources" are simply aggregators of news from other sources, with most of those sources being the old media websites! So the old media has to bear all the traditional costs of running a news outlet (paying for personnel, buildings, IT assets, travel expenses, benefits packages, etc.) but are losing revenue to new media outlets that have either none, or significantly less of those same cost outlays, because they are often a single person running a website, or a small staff of people working in a small office running a website.

            A primary example of this is one of the most most popular new sources on the web, The Drudge Report. Regardless of your personal opinion of Matt Drudge, one must admit that his site is very very popular. Who runs The Drudge Report? Well, pretty much just Matt. (Although he may have some staff now, I don't honestly know for certain.) And what IS The Drudge Report? Mostly just a news aggregator. Yes, it has broken several unique stories over it's lifetime, but it's MOSTLY just an aggregator. There are other sites that operate on similar principles, (/. itself would make another excellent example) and they make up the bulk of the "New Media" market.

            So what is a company like News Corp do to? They are losing traditional front-end sales to News Aggregators, and are losing back-end ad sales to Ad blocking technology. If they don't make money they don't survive. So can one REALLY blame them if they decide to go paywall?

            Personally, I think that there are better options, such as Partial paywall or better ad delivery that doesn't rely on unsecure 3rd party ad delivery services or more smoothly integrated non-flash ads that are both harder to block and less likely to spur attempts to block.

            I'm sure others can come up with even better ideas, but I think we all need to admit that these companies need to be allowed to conduct their business in the way that they see fit without us siting here and just demanding everything for free and expecting them to run on well-wishes and nice thoughts.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dwandy (907337)

              So what is a company like News Corp do to?

              if an aggregator becomes the destination of choice for people instead of the source then the aggregator must be offering something or offering it in some way that the people want and the source does not. If a page is nothing but a set of links then you'll cut out the middle-man and go directly to the source. This is true of even google: you don't google /. , you come here directly. And /. offers a reason for people to keep coming back here instead of El Reg, ZDNet

          • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:42AM (#32361272) Homepage

            Oh, I'm not sure the analysis is that hard. The more I read newspapers, the more I get the feeling they are becoming all the same only with different headers. Less and less is news they've dug up, more and more it's just current events they can do a story on. So it's slightly more than the commentary and reviews and rehashed press releases bloggers can do, sometimes they send people out with cameras and doing interviews but it's something every paper who bothers to check the event calender and has a press card can do. Constant rounds of layoffs confirm this impression, today you don't have have time for anything but "guaranteed" stories.

            You can stay on that ride all the way down, but is there money in it? It's very little like journalism and more like AP or Reuters, mass producing stories for next to nothing. That, and the market can simply be oversaturated meaning companies will in the short term sell themselves for below cost rather than fold. Of course the one with the deepest pockets will be left standing but those pockets will be awfully much slimmer before you get there. So he's bailing on a market that he doesn't see a future in, for a market he thinks there might be a future in. If there isn't, I'm sure Murdoch has some infotainment shows on TV he can promote instead so it's not like the bets are that unhedged.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:40AM (#32359540) Homepage Journal

        When that happens the Murdorks[1] will complain the google is blocking them.

        [1] Yes, plural. Always two there are.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:28AM (#32360480)
          Or else he'll argue Google is unfairly supporting the competition by indexing their free content. It's pretty clear either way that neither the guy nor any of the people advising him have any idea about the way the new technologies work. Half the time I don't even realise which site I'm reading the news on, I just follow interesting sounding links from Google, and I usually read two or three takes on the story from different sites to ensure I get a more rounded understanding of the real issues, but I rarely go to a specific source site as my first port of call (well, apart from the BBC site). If a bunch of sites disappear from the Google news feed, I probably won't even notice the difference, I certainly won't be tracking them down and paying to subscribe to them (and let's face it, if a user is already coming directly to your site for free news, Google doesn't even enter the equation).
          • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:44PM (#32363930)

            It's pretty clear either way that neither the guy nor any of the people advising him have any idea about the way the new technologies work.

            Do not underestimate him. I'm pretty sure he has a very good understanding of technology, even if it is on the level of "the internet is a series of tubes". What he's aiming for is help from legislators who understand little of the newspaper business and even less of the internet, but who understand that he is a successful bigwig who is contributing lots of money to their campaigns and local economy.

            The endgame here is full and complete control over information, in the vein of the hot news ruling regarding stock recommendations by the big investment houses. I.e., liability for copyright infringement would be so high for news aggregators that no one would do it - including Google, and where news organizations like BBC and PBS are forced behind a paywall through laws designed to "level the playing field."

            The guy is the epitome of the corporate sociopath - he will ruin the world if it nets him a few more millions.

          • by tweek (18111) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:49PM (#32364026) Homepage Journal

            Murdoch knows EXACTLY how the new technologies work. At least at a high-level. He doesn't need to know the detailed tech:

            1 - Google indexes content
            2 - Google links to content that is has indexed

            Your statement " Half the time I don't even realise which site I'm reading the news on" is exactly the problem the newspapers have right now. It's not going away either. News is a commodity. Unless it's a local story, editorial or some sort of investigative reporting the news is the same across ALL papers. Hell, I work for a newspaper. Everyone pulls in news from the wire services. How many times has google sent you to jrandom midwest paper about a hot topic only to realize that the story was sourced from AP or Reuters? I can go to 20 other sites and get the EXACT same story.

            He knows how it works, he just doesn't LIKE it. As someone else said, newspapers have been double-dipping for the lifetime of the product. Selling subscriptions on the front side and ads on the back. The problem is that people are willing to accept ad-supported content online in exchange for free access but I'll be damned if I'm going to patronize a web site that continues to show me ads AFTER I've become a subscriber. That attitude is simply counter to how newspapers operate. Look at the demographics of newspaper subscribers these days. The largest population of subscribers are literally DYING (something like 40% of the subscriber base is over the age of 60).

            The only people who really like the current crop of offerings for print-to-ipad conversions are, surprise, newspapermen. We had a big meeting with our editor a few weeks back and he was going ON and ON about how amazing it was to read his old hometown paper on the iPad because it was just like the paper he could get there (ads and all). Seriously?

            One reason the WSJ actually works as a paywall is that they have specialized content and analysis but that won't fly for the majority of print outlets making the jump.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sortius_nod (1080919)

        He'll find some way of blaming Google then.

        The guy has been riding the media wave for some time now, I think he's due for a reality check. This is no longer the 1950's, media houses no longer control the information we get. Adapt or die out.

      • by dnaumov (453672) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:37AM (#32360138)
        They openly admit they fully expect a 90% drop in userbase. They are however, arguing that since this 10% will now be paying, the end results will be better for their financial success.
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:02AM (#32359334) Journal
      People will be less likely to come across Murdoch tripe on the web. This is a Good Thing, as it should reduce the number of victims of his misinformation.
    • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:02AM (#32359338)

      I forgot to list this in my earlier post, but here are the scenarios that will happen with Murdoch delisting his news sites:

      1: They get forgotten except by subscribers. Can the news sites make money without ad revenue alone? Can they get by and make profits just on these people? This may cause costs to rise per person to hundreds of dollars a year. If the news site has such a fan base that people would do that, it may work, but people would probably find their news elsewhere. If they are reading from an aggregate like news.google.com, they might not even realize that the Times sites are not present on the list anymore.

      2: They become boutique sites like peer reviewed journals. There are a number of academic sites which are pay to play, and cost a hefty fee per PDF article. However, for general news, I don't think people would be interested in this. Maybe for back article research, but not for day to day items.

      3: They wise up and start playing ball again. Ad revenue may not be the most money they can get, but compared to no revenue at all, it might be a fruitful decision.

      4: They end up in the dust. There are a lot of unemployed journalists, it it wouldn't take much impetus for a startup news site to start up that is lean enough to run on ad revenue, perhaps having additional revenue streams for back article searches. No, this startup news site may not have enough money to pay for an AP wire, but those stories can always be come by other ways.

      • by martijnd (148684) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:34AM (#32359508)

        I don't think any (print) newspaper can survive off internet advertising income alone.

        The world will simply become more extreme.

        • You will have free newspapers, with basic stories, handed out to commuters paid for by advertising
        • You will have paid for newspapers, like the financial times, that contain news worth paying a premium for, which they won't publish online.
        • You will have local newspapers, capable of raising money from local advertisers to support their existence covering local news stories.

        And of course...

        You could have national newspapers, but with local advertising. But since this is expensive to do (so many different print versions to distribute) they need to automate this.

        Note that only 1 business model can survive mostly without advertisers -- the newspapers offering quality information for a high price to a specific subset of readers.

        So they might just as well cut themselves off the net and take their chances with their readers. Swim or sink.

        • by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:54AM (#32359616) Journal

          I don't think any (print) newspaper can survive off internet advertising income alone.

          Print news has always been funded primarily by advertising. You don't think the Murdoch empire was built on the price of the paper, do you? This is just about RM's greed and envy getting the best of him, because google can sell ads while aggregating content. He's a fool, no-one will even notice his tripe missing.

          • Too much greed (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mangu (126918) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:40AM (#32360152)

            Print news has always been funded primarily by advertising

            Same as the media industry in general. Radio and TV used to be funded primarily by advertising.

            Those were relatively low revenue businesses, after all no one cared to pay too much for a newspaper they throw away at the end of the day, and no one cared to pay to listen to the radio or watch TV. It's different from buying a car or clothes or any other durable item that you would use for years.

            Then pure unadulterated greed came in. Now they want to charge us for every image we see, for every sound we hear. They want to put meters in our eyes and ears. I say fuck them.

            Let them go broke if advertising doesn't pay enough. Let other investors come in, investors who are smart enough to know they cannot charge more than people are ready to pay.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          You will have free newspapers, with basic stories, handed out to commuters paid for by advertising

          We already have this up here in Toronto. There's a few free basic newspapers that are readily available on street corners, as well as in our subway stations. I see people reading them on the subway all the time. Hell, I find them sitting on the seats on the way home from work because people leave them there. There's a daily general news one called 24H (formerly 24 Hours) [wikipedia.org], as well as a weekly tabloid called Now Magazine [wikipedia.org] which my wife likes because it details local events going on in different areas of th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wangi (16741)

        4: They end up in the dust. There are a lot of unemployed journalists, it it wouldn't take much impetus for a startup news site to start up that is lean enough to run on ad revenue, perhaps having additional revenue streams for back article searches. No, this startup news site may not have enough money to pay for an AP wire, but those stories can always be come by other ways.

        As an example take a look at the Caledonian Mercury: http://caledonianmercury.com/ [caledonianmercury.com]

      • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:54AM (#32359610) Homepage

        People generally only visit these academic sites if they can claim the cost on expenses from their employer. There isn't anything in the Times that people need in order to do their job in the way that there is for the Financial Times, the Economist or the Wall Street Journal. I read somewhere that they need to get about 10% of their current readers to subscribe to replace the lost ad revenue. I don't think subscription numbers will be anything like that high.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RMH101 (636144)
        5) They make themselves available as paid articles for the iPad, make them glossy enough, and actually make some money, whilst at the same time allowing Google limited access to to their headlines to act as a teaser to draw people in

        Not saying it's right, not saying it'll work, just saying the timing is right
      • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:44AM (#32360180)
        Murdoch already runs his newspapers as a boutique business and gets his money from elsewhere. Think of all his other media outlets, listen to the message he's spreading about all of us on the net being pirates and thieves and look at how governments are reacting (eg. drastic cuts to BBC news and BBC web presence). His hysterical screaming travelling roadshow on this issue for the past three years has not been for our benefit, it has been for the benefit of gullible or easily influenced governments and regulatory bodies around the world.
        He's not an out of touch dinosaur, he owned an internet service provider in 1993 FFS and he's based his entire career on being surrounded by experts that can find an advantage for him in any deal. He understands the net more than many readers here - the problem is he doesn't care if he ruins it for everyone else if he can make a buck out of it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:05AM (#32359352)

      Not only is nothing of value lost, but finally Murdoch does something good for mankind.

    • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:13AM (#32359396) Homepage
      As I understand it, that's Murdoch's point (or hope, anyway). He's not been able to make enough money off his news sites through advertisement based revenue streams, so now he's going to try and make people pay for the content and make his money that way. That only works if the content is not available for free elsewhere, even if it's only the first paragraph on a news indexer like Google's site as that is all many people would read.

      Sure, a lot of people will go elsewhere for their news, but as long as more money comes in from those who are prepared to pay for their content then Murdoch will improve his bottom line, albeit probably by nowhere near the amount he is hoping for. I think we've seen what happens after than with Cable TV; despite paying for the service, you'll start getting more and more adverts anyway because Murdoch is nothing if not a greedy bastard. Unlike with Cable TV however, these adverts will be to logged in and thus trackable users, meaning adverts will be much more targetable and slightly more lucrative to Murdoch.

      The scary part is what happens if his model actually works, or at least is better a better source of revenue than the current model? Chances are in that case at least some of the potential alternative news outlets will go the same way and the remaining choices might not exactly be bastions of sound journalism. I suppose there's always the BBC since they are funded by the license fee, but even they appear to have been restricting some overseas access of late to things like iPlayer videos embedded in stories.

      Freely available international news coverage is not something that I want to see in the position of being the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.
      • I wonder if this is a gambit to get laws passed limiting the availability of articles, where the Times and other sites lose money, then end up whining to the governments of US and Europe that "news piracy" or some other tripe like that is affecting them and causing them dire losses. Of course, with a sympathetic ear, I wonder if some provision to ACTA might be added to persecute news aggregation sites, or make them liable similar to how MGM vs. Grokster set the basis of making Grokster liable for inducing

      • by NickFortune (613926) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:39AM (#32359532) Homepage Journal

        As I understand it, that's Murdoch's point (or hope, anyway). He's not been able to make enough money off his news sites through advertisement based revenue streams, so now he's going to try and make people pay for the content and make his money that way

        I don't believe that. I think he's hoping to lead a newspaper revolution. He wants all newspapers to go paywalled, so he can try and create an artificial scarcity and maintain pre-internet pricing models.

        The scary part is what happens if his model actually works, or at least is better a better source of revenue than the current model?

        I read somewhere that the Guardian (another UK national paper) reported advertising income from its web site of 40M. If that's true, Murdoch needs upwards of 200,000 weekly subscribers to match that. I can't see that happening. I think people who have that sort of investment in the Times probably take the dead tree edition, and won't want to pay for the information again. He'll get a handful of corporate subscriptions, of course, but even internationally I can't see that equaling lost revenue.

        The casual readers, of course, will stay away in droves

        Freely available international news coverage is not something that I want to see in the position of being the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.

        Isn't going to happen. The trouble with the strategy is that it funnels readers (and therefore ad revenue) to the non-participating papers. The more papers that follow Murdoch's lead, the more profitable it becomes to offer ad-supported news. Even if he's successful beyond all reasonable expectations, there's still going to come an equilibrium point.

        Unless he's looking at aggressive takeovers of the dissenting papers, of course. But that's only viable if the number of targets is comparatively small, and I doubt he'll get that many buying into his Master Plan.

        • by VendettaMF (629699) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:57AM (#32359632) Homepage

          >> He wants all newspapers to go paywalled, so he can try and create an artificial scarcity and maintain pre-internet pricing models.

          In essence he wants laws passed and customary behavior established that ensure that no vehicle may travel without at least 2 standard Buggy Whips and a bag of oats aboard.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by paiute (550198)

            >> He wants all newspapers to go paywalled, so he can try and create an artificial scarcity and maintain pre-internet pricing models.

            In essence he wants laws passed and customary behavior established that ensure that no vehicle may travel without at least 2 standard Buggy Whips and a bag of oats aboard.

            Well, were there not laws passed in some jurisdictions that every horseless carriage had to be preceeded by a man on foot waving a red lantern?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vtcodger (957785)

        ***The scary part is what happens if his model actually works, or at least is better a better source of revenue than the current model?***

        When it comes to predicting the actions of the general population, my track record is far from sterling. But I have trouble believing that anyone other than a few nutcases and librarians are going to buy subscriptions to the Times of London. Murdoch may, and I emphasize MAY, be able to set up the Wall Street Journal and Barrons as successful subscription driven operatio

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by paiute (550198)

          I think this is probably what we Americans call a Hail Mary strategy -- put the ball up in the air in the final few seconds of a close, but lost, game and pray.

          Except that the Hail Mary pass play succeeds sometimes. This is more analogous to having your punter take the snap from your own 1-yard line and try to run 99 yards for the TD. In his street clothes. Drunk.

  • by kurokame (1764228) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @04:59AM (#32359308)
    It's as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced...but no one cared.
  • If Times and Sunday Times are going to be come invisible on the internet. They should prepare them self for closing down there web pages as a next logical step.

    If nobody can find you on the internet, nobody is going to read you too. There drop in traffic is going to measure up, and make someone else popular instead.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:20AM (#32359434)

      Not necessarily.

      Let us assume for the time being that the Times' website is losing money hand over fist. This is a perfectly valid assumption - hell, the print version of the times hasn't made money in years.

      In which case, switching to a paid subscription will do a few things:

      1. Drastically reduce traffic to the website. This may actually be a good thing because it means all of a sudden the amount of infrastructure (and associated cost) required to host it will plummet.

      2. Give a consistent, known amount of revenue per reader. Mr. Murdoch probably only needs a few thousand customers worldwide for it to have been worthwhile - and if he's got any brains at all, he'll have streamlined the operation such that news that is printed is selected and brought into the website in a fairly automatic process which means the site just sits there doing its thing 90% of the time. Considering the amount it costs to buy a UK paper abroad (usually three or four times the cover price, assuming you can find one and it isn't a week old), there may well be enough ex-pats who think that £2/week is a good deal.

      Put another way, do you as a /. reader think Rupert Murdoch is an idiot? He's an idiot who is almost certainly worth about a million times what you are, and I guarantee quite a few businesses which put news content on the web will be watching this very closely. If he's right (and I accept it's a big if), he'll turn the website from a loss-leader into a quiet little machine that just sits in the corner ticking over and making a fair bit of money. Once that happens, there won't be a quiet movement of other news sites going pay-as-you-read. There'll be a stampede.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mlts (1038732) *

        This will backfire. Say all news sites decide to immediately join and not have a single article on the Net. Nature abhors a vacuum. Someone will come in and fill the gap, be it more firms discussing how nifty the latest gadget is, or political figures will start sites and call them news.

        I can see a political mouthpiece taking advantage of a dearth of news by filling in the vacuum with his/her rhetoric. His or her site would go from what it is now, to expanding to fill the void. It would have local chap

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dzfoo (772245)

          So the "web news" will cease to be the traditional, journalistic news, and will be replaced by casual "bloggers"?

          I think there is a chance that this strategy will work. Considering that Mr. Murdoch has traditionally been a smart and cunning business man, I think he expects this too.

          However, nothing remains the same forever, and better models may evolve. Therefore, to think that this would spell the end of the free Interwebs or society or anything like that is just plain stupid. For instance, it may come

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324)

        Or it will simply make people read BBC (which is most likely way at the top already) more often; considering they are also one of the most sensible news services on the web, I can see only benefits.

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:26AM (#32360088) Homepage Journal

        Put another way, do you as a /. reader think Rupert Murdoch is an idiot?

        I don't think that, but I do think it's possible for someone to be smart about some things, and not terribly knowledgeable or understanding of something else. One of the issues the Internet has had since its explosion has been the number of established industries (and successful people associated with those industries) that suddenly found it a threat. These people, from studio bosses to booksellers, weren't idiots, they got where they were by knowing their industries inside out, but how to deal with the free flow of information itself became a particular issue they were ill-equipped to manage.

        Murdoch, thus far, has a terrible record with the Internet. While Fox News might have more viewers than CNN or MSNBC, its website is one of the least popular. While Murdoch can't be blamed, given the recentness of the acquisition, for the WSJ's low presence compared to, say, the NYT, the UK situation is staggering with the Guardian's website attracting 37 million unique visitors every month, vs the Time's less than 20M. Try as I may, I can't think of a single online operation primarily managed by Murdoch that's attracted any serious level of serious success compared to its direct rivals.

        It's possible Murdoch will turn that around, but it's hard to see how removing your sites from Google and discouraging bloggers from deep linking can help you in the short or long term. Even if the aim is to change every hundred free readers into one paying subscriber and become successful that way, is it probable that this would work? Is the Times of such perceived high quality by a substantial number of people that those people would chose it and chose to pay for it over a high quality free alternative like The Guardian? Can The Times survive if the only people reading it are those who have already heard of it, and haven't gotten into the habit of reading an easier to find quality news website?

        Do I think Murdoch "gets" the Internet? No. I suspect News International will, eventually, figure out how to work with it, but it may require an individual who knows more than centralized media to do it. Murdoch, just about, knows centralized media. Even there, his skills tend to be overstated: Murdoch's business plan within centralized media has always been fairly simple: run profitable populist media enterprises (The Sun, Fox, Fox News, etc), and run one or two loss making "serious" journals to ensure he has higher level political clout. Murdoch's skills are with populist, low-end, centralized media. I wouldn't assume he knows how to monetize news on the Internet any more than I'd expect Einstein to run a movie studio.

  • I am willing to bet that eventually they'll start loosing more money than they are now. They are probably making a decent amount of money on advertising right now, and they will probably end up making less on paid subscriptions than they currently do on advertising. Will they eventually reverse course in 6months to a year?

    I guess we'll see... but for the majority of the internet, this means the death of murdoch's online news dominance. Good Riddance.

  • Good to see that howlin' mad Murdoch is taking the advice that I and so many other Slashdotters have offered him. He could have done this at any time if he'd really wanted his pages out of the indexes.
  • by acehole (174372)

    Gone by June, Back by July.

    Personally I think the guy is the worst thing that has come out of capitalism. He's also poison for any democracy.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:06AM (#32359358) Homepage

    This is weapons grade idiocy in action. Murdoch chose to make the material freely available, inviting anyone with a web browser to come and read it. Google merely advertised its existence, to his benefit and ours, hooking up browsers with the content. And simple because Google could find a way to make money from the value they added (to both producer and consumer!) what they are doing is "theft"?

    The Murdochs of this word are dinosaurs, moaning in hunger-maddened anger as the forests give way to grassland that they're not equipped to browse on. If dinosaurs had had lawyers, they've had sued the grass for displacing the cycads.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:18AM (#32359414)

      The thing is that Murdoch is a genius and a kingmaker. He has shaped the landscape of US and UK politics radically. The guy isn't dumb, and he knows his stuff.

      What is happening here is hubris. He scored big on his companies making blockbusters (the movie Avatar helped fill his coffers up, so he isn't lacking for much.) However, he expects people to pay for news articles like they happily pony up money to see a Na'vi kick some corporate enforcer derriere in 3D. This is his mistake.

      News aggregation sites will keep on going. They will just not index his news sites' stuff. Going to news.google.com and reading about events is not like going to see a movie. People are not going to pay per article when they can read all day free. And unless the whole Internet is replaced by a walled garden like a Compuserve (which I'm sure a lot of very well heeled people want), it will likely remain this way.

      • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:38AM (#32359528)

        The thing is that Murdoch is a genius and a kingmaker. He has shaped the landscape of US and UK politics radically. The guy isn't dumb, and he knows his stuff.

        Thats why all the time he never wanted google to stop indexing his pages. He rather wanted Google et al. to pony up some dough for the privilege of advertising his newspapers....

      • by Elky Elk (1179921) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:06AM (#32359978)

        I don't think he's as much of a kingmaker as he'd like to think. His UK papers change alligance once its obvious who will win the next election, then pretend it was their support that swung it. Faulty cause and effect.

        • Cameron is no fool; he may be a PR man but he has a first class degree from Oxford. So does one of my kids, so I know how hard that is to do. And what he saw was that Murdoch tried to swing the UK election and failed. In the UK, Murdoch has shot his bolt. Politicians know he cannot deliver. And Cameron depends on Clegg, and the Lib Dems have constantly been rubbished by Murdoch. It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and that man is Keith Rupert Murdoch. Because he has been seen to have no clothes.
  • by whencanistop (1224156) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:07AM (#32359366) Homepage Journal
    Not that I don't agree with the article, but it is worth pointing out for full disclosure that the New York Post is owned by News Corporation [wikipedia.org] as is The Times and The Sunday Times [wikipedia.org].

    It'll make it interesting when Slashdot has to start putting up stories from niche websites instead of mainstream if they all go behind paywalls.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eunuchswear (210685)

      It'll make it interesting when Slashdot has to start putting up stories from niche websites instead of mainstream if they all go behind paywalls.

      Niche?

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/ [bbc.co.uk]
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/ [guardian.co.uk]

      If the tories had won the election maybe he'd of been able to get Dave from PR to close down the BBC, but they didn't, and even Dave may have had problems getting rid of the Graundiad.

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:12AM (#32359392)

    Considering the newspapers News International publishes, I don't really consider this a loss. The less of "The Sun" and "News Of The World" seen on-line the better, really; only the "The Times" and "Sunday Times" could really be considered any kind of a loss.

    Now if only we could get "The Daily Mail" to follow suit.

  • by RichiH (749257) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:19AM (#32359422) Homepage

    _Some_ people get the whole thing about distribution costs plummeting and the need for new business models. Example: The Guardian.

    Others don't. Example: Rupert Murdoch.

    For people interested in these matters, I suggest techdirt.com -- I am not affiliated, but I love reading their stuff.

  • kthxbye (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wickerprints (1094741) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:31AM (#32359482)

    Ever since Google News debuted, I've been trying to figure out a way to block Murdoch's evil media empire content from being shown, just so that I don't accidentally click on any of his links. I'm very glad to see that he's going to do it for me.

  • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:33AM (#32359498)

    I'm very curious to see whether people will notice the change in news bias if most of the major MSM sites go behind paywalls.

    For decades the MSM, which functions essentially as the marketing department of the business/government/media oligarchy, has been western society's way of defining reality.

    How might people's view of the world, and their own worlds, change as paywalls muffle that particular voice and allow others to be heard?

    If this does lead to of any kind social change, it will be quite beautiful that it was their own unstoppable quest for more money that led the plutocracy over the cliff.

  • by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:33AM (#32359500)

    and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:59AM (#32359638) Homepage

    If only Fox and CNN can be persuaded to follow suit with their websites, and maybe move their televised channels to a subscription model as well.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @06:13AM (#32359686)
    People are willing to pay for the paper edition because it gives them several benefits over the same content on a website edition. The biggest is convenience: you can take the content with you and read it where ever you happen to be. No need for batteries, internet connections. You can read it in normal daylight and you don't get reflections off the screen (who decided that matte screens were a bad idea, so that all you can buy now are glossy ones that are impossible to view?).

    You can read it on the train, you can read it on the lavatory - and if you run out of toilet paper ..... there's something else you can't do with a laptop. You can even line your parrot's cage with it.

    What Murdoch is about to find out is that the value people place on the content is quite small, especially when most of it is celebrity gossip, ill-informed and bigoted columnists and rants disguised as stories - written purely to promote the owner's politics. The real value of the newspaper is it's ease of use. Once you take that away the disadvantages of a web-only publication far outweigh the lower price. He will also find out that just because news costs money to gather, script and present doesn't mean that people are willing to pay that cost and that presentation is a much bigger part of the deal.

    • Fish wrap (Score:3, Funny)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      The biggest problem is that you cannot use a web site to wrap your fish 'n chips.
    • by value_added (719364) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:38AM (#32360586)

      People are willing to pay for the paper edition because it gives them several benefits over the same content on a website edition. The biggest is convenience: you can take the content with you and read it where ever you happen to be.

      You've made some good points, but I'd offer the following: I continue to subscribe to newspapers, periodicals and magazines for a number of reasons, none of which include convenience.

      • Whatever it is I intend on reading, I can either read page by page, cover to cover, or skim the entire thing and be able to tell you exactly what's in that issue. With a website, pages are cross-linked to each other in an unholy, incestuous and distracting mess the rules of which are based partly in a misplaced effort at offering convenience, partly to pimp features (typically slideshows or useless video clips), but mostly to generate advertising dollars.
      • To expand on the above, no one knows what's in today's "web edition" of the New York Times. It's hardly unusual in a print edition for the day's more important article to be buried on an inside page below the fold. You'll never find it on the web without extraordinary effort and patience. And then, of course, there's those serendipitous discoveries that happen only where there's pages to turn (the most relevant tech news is often found in the Business section, and who the hell reads that, right?). Either way, if you don't think it's important to know what's in "today's paper", you're not part of the discussion; you're just a uninformed (by choice) bystander in the crowd making noise.
      • Can you say typography? Websites are, compared to print, ugly to look at and ugly to read.
      • Computer monitors are wonderful for displaying things, but they're antithetical to reading. Don't kid yourself you're doing any serious reading if you can't get through at least half of this article [nybooks.com], for example, before you start to fidget, try unsuccessfully and repeatedly to sit back, and give up in frustration.
      • My newspapers are delivered in the morning. My dog and I enjoy walking to the end of the driveway to pick them up, just as I enjoy reading them in a comfy chair with my morning coffee. My magazines are similarly read at my leisure, but in the evening, and in another equally comfortable chair. You can't replicate those experiences with computer equipment.
      • Oh, yeah, Google Makes You Stupid [theatlantic.com] and hyperlinks are a distraction [theatlantic.com]. So much for the premise (and the promise) of the world wide web. At least with respect to reading.

      It's certainly possible that a Kindle-like device may revolutionise reading in general, and the newspaper/magazine industry specifically (publishers are certainly hoping it does). But until that happens, I'll continue to pay for print subscriptions .. and bemoan the downward spiral of things.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I ahve sad news for you.

      I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you need to know:

      "celebrity gossip, ill-informed and bigoted columnists and rants disguised as stories"

      Those are the most read and most profitable stories.

      Look, I don't ,like Murdoch but the fact is he is in it to make money. If most people wanted quality journalism he would provide it.

  • Hey rupert... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonwil (467024) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:13AM (#32360022)

    Please do this in Australia too.
    Getting the Daily Telegraph, Australian, Herald-Sun, Sunday Times, Adelaide Advertiser etc off the internet would be good (there are better places to find the news that matters anyway such as the ABC)

  • Mmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:37AM (#32360140) Homepage

    Is it just me or am I the only person who *won't* pay for news because it inherently means that someone is being paid to write something that someone else wants them to? "Independent" or not, I don't think I've ever paid for news services, ever, at all - the closest I got was, for a while, paying for a TV licence. I don't buy papers, I don't watch the news, I don't subscribe to any news websites. Never have done.

    However, if I catch wind of an interesting bit of news (which therefore removes any political, celebrity or hyperbole news), I look it up on the Internet and have done ever since I had a connection to it. About the only "news" that I consume readily is the free paper given out on the London Underground (The Metro - you can read it online at www.metro.co.uk as a PDF each morning but I don't know if they restrict non-UK access) and BBC News. The former because it's free, simplified and I don't detect too much bias in it (despite being owned by a biased-company, but again, political news rarely interests me), the latter because, well, the same reasons.

    Paying for news is very old-fashioned, older than my generation really, and likely to only give you the one-sided impression that you want. I want my news to be free, refreshing, fact-based (and therefore sometimes contrary to my opinions), otherwise what's the point in reading it? News is, basically, a form of up-to-date entertainment to me. After decades of free papers, "free" Teletext news (if you owned a working TV), "free" news programmes, free Internet news, free news texted to my phone, etc.etc.etc. who still would ever want to pay for it? You could argue that paying for it gets you "higher-quality" news (whatever that means) but I discover things that are relevant to me, that are reported fairly, and go into enough detail to get me interested in personally researching the actual truth all the time. I don't have time to follow up a lot of the things I would like to. Even the news can't keep up and often have to recycle old Science news that we've all known about for months. And you'd be extraordinarily hard-pressed to make "better quality" news than the BBC or Metro, no matter what you paid for it. Every outlet gets the same news within the same minute, everyone buys the same photos from the same photographers, everyone gets the same quotes from the relevant people. News isn't "new"s any more.

    What I'd give my right-arm for would be a Metro that had a much larger Science section, that wasn't quite so dumbed down. Or a really decent IT section. Even in my areas of interest, 99% of the science / IT / maths stories are just ridiculously obvious, well-known or under-stated. But I'd only like that because it would still be distributed as free PDF's that are emailed to my inbox every morning. If you asked me to pay much more than a token donation, you'd be losing my readership. I pay for the services I choose to consume but with paid-news, I would just choose not to consume. It's really not that important to me, or makes that much difference. Ten minutes research on any subject / incident that I am interested in gets me infinitely more detailed facts than a paper could ever convey, and without the hang-back of reporting restrictions.

    In the end, the "death" of news is nothing new itself. I'm 31 and I've never bought a newspaper for myself, never bought a news website subscription, or paid to view an article, or anything else. I've always wondered how *any* newspaper made money in the last 20 years, if it wasn't by advertising and a low cover-price. Metro has held on for over 10 years with the same business model, so it's obviously doing something right. Interestingly, Murdoch's copy-cat paper "thelondonpaper" (Yes, apparently they don't know about spaces and capital letters) went under trying to survive with the same model.

    News isn't worth paying for - it's a five-minute distraction on the way into work and/or two minutes research saved for anyone that actually WANTS to know the facts about anything. As it

  • I'd love it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:50AM (#32360220)
    if Google News was finally disinfected from the Fox News comtamination. I dumped it long ago as it become obvious that Google was either complicit or clueless about Fox News gaming the system to have their propagandistic headlines appear on any story even tangentially connected to US politics. For all pratcial purposes, Google News is now equivalent to The Drudge Report and is of no interest to me.
  • by robertito (80580) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:25AM (#32361064) Homepage

    I'm a developer for The Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/ [guardian.co.uk] ) - a UK newspaper not owned by Murdoch, which doesn't have any intention of becoming invisible any time soon - rather than erecting a paywall, we've spent the last year putting together a content API that allows anyone to explore our content using search terms, faceting, etc - and then build your own application upon it. Check it out here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/open-platform/getting-started [guardian.co.uk]

    The implementation, written in Scala and based on Apache Solr/Lucene stack was pretty good fun (we plan to opensource it within a few months) - slides with some of the implementation details are here :

    http://www.slideshare.net/openplatform/the-guardian-open-platform-content-api-implementation [slideshare.net]

    Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, recently gave a pretty deep lecture on the 'open vs closed' & 'authority vs involvement' questions raised by the spectre of paywalls:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/cudlipp-lecture-alan-rusbridger [guardian.co.uk]

    cheers,
    Roberto

    (views my own, not necessarily those of my employer, yack yack yack)

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