Another paywall, this time at the Herald Sun; get stuffed

The Australian newspaper went behind a partial paywall last October that has seen its traffic decline sharply. Now Melbourne’s Herald Sun is planning to do the same in March.

What? Profits aren’t enough?

News Corp posted a $US1.06 billion ($995 million) in quarterly profits this month. The result included costs of $US104 million in the first half of the year related to charges, lawyers and advisory fees stemming from the UK scandal, Reuters reported.

One billion a quarter translates to four billion a year.
And besides, I’m NOT going to pay for the Australian, and the Herald Sun, and the Daily Telegraph, and the Courier Mail, and the Adelaide Advertiser, and the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, and the Times and… all separately.
That is simply ridiculous, as is the concept of reverting back to only reading one newspaper.
So Murdoch can get stuffed. I appreciate his newspapers, but essentially, they are entertainment.
Perhaps if ALL News Corp. productions went behind a SINGLE reasonably priced paywall, I’d consider it, depending  on what else I could find out there.
Another thing I don’t get is how a full page ad in the newspaper-proper can cost around 50 grand, but ads in online editions generate diddly squat since they are on a pay-per-click basis. After all, it’s not as if we “click” the ads in the old newspapers or “click” the similarly expensive ads on the TV.
Hmm, I wonder what will happen to Andrew Bolt’s blog over there. Three millions hits a month behind a paywall?
Ho hum.
  1. Hi,
    I hadn’t heard about The Herald Sun going behind a paywall. I totally agree with you, one price for all papers would be a lot better. I do miss reading The Australian, now it looks like I will not be reading The Herald Sun either. 😦

    There are a couple of blogs from The Australian that are not paywall protected, such as Chris Kenny’s blog:

    Maybe they will do the same for Andrew’s blog as well?

    • Sean of Deer Park
    • February 23rd, 2012

    I don’t really understand what makes Murdo think his product is so very special everyone would be interested in paying for all the various Mastheads. Most of the content is exactly the same in each. It is simply that certain Journo’s gain a reputation and following that has an interest factor. Only because the internet has made those Journo’s accessible and thus easily recognised on other media (TV and Radio). As you say, BB, it’s entertainment.

    If NL weren’t being so greedy, I think everyone would wear a token fee for all News Limited Media on a Global account. A login and password for everything. Even that is pushing it the way its set up at the moment. In this day and age people shouldn’t be charged a fee to form or hold an opinion.

    The business model they are heading to is flawed. The concept as I see it, is to get as many people reading your content as possible. It is the advertising space where the big bucks are. Free to air television and Radio have worked this way for years and put a hell of a lot more effort into providing 24/7 content, employing Journalist’s, actors, production teams, camera men, sound people, engineers, electricians, set designers, DJ’s, and the lists goes on and on.

    Yet, Newspapers are now at the forefront of being able to move toward no physical media (Papers); which means their costs are going to go down over time as more and more people do not need NL to chop down trees to provide their product and distribution network. Multimedia now allows them to enhance the experience with video and sound (made elsewhere). Everything can be sourced from TV networks anyway and most of the Journo’s like to pop in “linky thingy’s” just like we all do to tell a story or send a simple email. No wonder Murdoch made a Billion Bucks in a quarter! Sheesh, where are the overheads these days.

    The reader has already invested their own good money to buy the bloody computer we read it on, pay the Telco for the service connection with download capacity and put up with all the advertising and spam which now appears pretty much everywhere you go to on the web.

    How many times do we have to pay for content you get from all sorts of other places for free anyway? It is double dipping of epic proportions.

    Provide free readership.
    Place all Masthead on the front page of one home site.
    User friendly directory, click to go to Global, Region, Country, State, Shire, Local and Topic.
    Sell advertising space packaged and modelled on those categories.
    Simple. It ain’t rocket science.

    When a reader clicks on an item of interest, a random or sponsored advertisement comes up on the page with the item.
    They are already doing all of this, so where is the problem?

    Is it our fault if they do not charge enough for web advertising? This is the crux of the matter really. Billions of people all over the world are online and see the adverts. Who was the bozo that declared the ad has only been seen if it was “clicked” on. If the advertisement was downloaded to the user it surely should be deemed as seen. Yes? Unless the user is blind. When I listen to MTR online, I still hear all the adverts.

    Make it free.
    Make it fun.
    Make it interactive. (Unmoderated comments on everything)
    Lobby government to ensure Freedom of speech and opinion where required.
    Bundle all media together; News, TV, Radio, Cable, Music, Telecoms, Movies.

    Mr Murdoch, you are a smart man, I’m certain you have heard of “Value-Added Services”. Which brings me to the final part of my rant. What I have said here was the plan and supposed to happen when I worked on Multimedia for computers in the first place. The problem in the beginning was bandwidth and memory limitations. These problems have now been resolved, but too many separate entities now want to own the rights of all the content. The users have already done their part. We buy the infrastructure and equipment so you (Newslimited) can bombard us with advertising to sell stuff. Don’t expect people to want to pay. Someone else will eventually go back to the drawing board and do what I have set out above and then Newslimited will be an old expensive dinosaur, just like Mr Murdoch himself.

    Sorry Murdoch, I admire you, I really do. But Citizen Kane, you are not.

    • mabba
    • February 23rd, 2012

    Doesn’t sound good. Years ago Murdoch bought up most of the free suburban weekly newspapers. They were free courtesy of the advertisers, most of whom were small local businessmen. However, in a capital city like Brisbane, to get coverage in your area eg Northside, you had to advertise in at least 4 suburbans – & even then you missed some critical streets. Just 3-4 lines of small print was quite expensive, & the same across several papers weekly was ridiculous.

    What a joke – no need for any media inquiries to shut down dissemination of info & opinions.

    • Stephen
    • February 24th, 2012

    This is what everyone seems to forget- since the 1960s, only a small minority of people ever read newspapers- about 25% of the population. The mighty New York Times largest subscriber base was 1.1 million people in 1994. This is a NATIONAL newspaper in a town of 9 million people. More likely than not, if you are reading this comment, you are not a newspaper person by nature. The fact that the interney has made them free has made you a newspaper person, but not really. You always preferred TV and Radio and Magazines. So now things are going back to their traditonal equilibrium. Newspaper websites will raise paywalls and lose about 90% of their users. But, like the WSJ and NYT and TOL and every other paper that puts up paywalls, they will finally make money again. BTW… Keep in mind that Murdos big money is in cable and tv.

      • Sean of Deer Park
      • February 26th, 2012

      G’day Stephen. I’ve been thinking about your post and would agree with what you say, mostly. I know in my own family, the Newspapers were always shared. Nanna and Grandpa used to buy all the papers and give them to Mum and Dad everyday after they had finished with them in the 1970’s (…as an example; except Nanna kept the crossword page). 25% seems like a reasonable figure.

      Murdo can sell as many papers as he can muster. He can price them as he likes. That is not the issue with the Internet which is a separate service. The Internet is a new media and needs its own marketing strategy. Pay per view will not work, as there are so many other places to get the same info. We don’t need the “Newspapers” to tell us anymore. We can come to blogs like this one, we can make friends with people on facebook, join twitter feeds, get emails from individuals, businesses, political parties or lobby groups and get all the info we need from the ‘horses mouth’ to keep abreast of issues, if we are interested and engaged enough; without paying for a log-in to a particular News outlet (ie. the 25%).

      In my opinion, the world is now far beyond Murdochs old-fashioned business model. Technology is changing too rapidly for people to lock themselves into silly contracts with any company and old habits. Even Internet service providers are moving towards pay as you go plans for this reason. Eventually, NewsLimited will realise the power and potential of the Internet regarding advertising dollars, just as TV and Radio have always done. The Cable TV model is the biggest rip-off ever. I had it twice and concluded it is expensive, has adverts anyway, repeats programming to the point of despair and would never have it again. Total waste of money, in my opinion. Murdoch seems to be trying to turn his Newspapers into the “Cable” of the Internet. It simply wont work long term. Good luck to him if he can sucker some people into signing up.

  1. February 23rd, 2012

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