According to Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, the majority of newspapers will be charging for access to their online content within a year. As newspaper publishers finally prepare their strategies for confronting the challenge of the Internet, you feel their direction in the next twelve months and whether they follow this path will have massive implications for their print editions.
Newspaper sales have been severely dented by the rise of the Internet, particularly in the United States where they embraced the Internet as the main provider for news a lot quicker than their antipodean relations.
Barber said that the industry still needs to figure out a way to charge readers without turning them away, be it subscription-based models or the like.
News Corp has already moved some of its websites, namely its financial flagships, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, to a subscription service where certain sections of their websites are restricted to paying costumers.
The New York Times will soon be following suit.
The implications here will be massive.
Surely online subscriptions for newspaper content would further doom the print editions?
It’s unlikely people will fork out twice for both online and print editions of what is essentially the same product and given the obvious advantage of online content, speed of the news, it’s not a difficult prediction to suggest online will win out for the readers hard earned dollars.
But with the depth and variety of news content already on the Internet, a pay per view system could risk driving away thousands of readers who will simply search through Google for their free news fix and find it elsewhere.
The newspapers must ensure they are offering premium quality if they are going to be asking for subscriptions.
But how long does the print edition have left to live?
There are some simple and mundane things about print that will be missed.
For some, the Internet will never be able to replace the feeling of holding a magazine or newspaper in your hand.
There remains something appealing about that sensation.
As the adage goes, have you tried sitting on the toilet reading a laptop?
It’s not the same.
Whether the loyal print lovers are enough to sustain the whole print industry in the face of the Internet remains doubtful.
However, you have to wonder if the plan to charge users for online content is the right way to save the industry.
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