Extra! Extra! (Cash)?

August 14, 2009

There’s been some interesting additions (in more ways than one) to the newscape online lately. The latest from Rupert Murdoch, Owner Of Everything Righteous And Good, is that he will start charging for his news services. Of course, bloggers everywhere have been in uproar. Fancy paying for something we’ve been getting for free ever since the introduction of the internet? Well, Murdoch seems to think we’ll succumb. $20 bucks please for anyone who reads on…

Now, i’m the first to admit that Murdoch isn’t exactly my favourite person in the world. But, personal attacks aside, there’s no denying the power he has over the media, particularly in Australia. In Brisbane alone he owns the only 3 print-based news services, and that’s not even counting all the online companion sites. There’s been plenty of backlash in the past about his questionable tactics (seen Outfoxed, anyone?). But I’m not here to criticise Murdoch’s every move. Just one in particular.

For those living under a rock, the story goes something like this: Murdoch’s company NewsCorp, has released plans of monetising their online news services, which include news.com.au and all its subsidaries, the Australian and numerous others. In other words, probably about 90% of mainstream Australian online news services will require payment to view their stories. Now no-one can deny he is not a trendsetter- apart from the niche, boutique news services, no-one has done this before.

Of course many reactions have been fairly typical- usually along the lines that it will be the death of either a) online news, or b) NewsCorp. But i’m interested more in the people on the other side. Of course there was this article in the Australian, which to me seemed pretty much like blind praise. But considering who owns that particular publication, it’s not altogether surprising.

But there are other people out there saying that regardless of if this is positive or negative, it will change the newscape online, whether we like it or not. NewsCorp is relying on their hefty power to convince competitors in the market that this is the future of online news. So in the next 1, 2, 5 years, maybe Fairfax and eventually all online news will be pay-per-view. It’s an interesting thought.

My interest still lies in us youngsters. We’ve all heard the line touted about: “Young people just don’t engage in the news anymore.” And yeah, we probably don’t as much as we did in the past (the reasons why is another debate entirely)…but beginning to charge for what most teenagers have received for free the majority of their lives isn’t going to help any. I have visions of a new piracy war; forget music, let’s illegally download NEWS! People getting sued up to 25 grand for pirating 500 words. Sounds pretty ludicrous, doesn’t it.

Another gripe I have is the quality of these news sites. Maybe i would be more willing to pay for news if the content itself was actually decent. A quick search of news.com.au comes up with headlines like “Bec Hewitt victim of ‘Grubby Report'” and “Why No-One Likes Austalia Anymore”. Would you pay to read stories like that? I sure as hell won’t.

An actual picture from news.com.au, for a story titled Rise of the LOLcats. Now theres some quality journalism.

An actual picture from news.com.au, for a story titled 'Rise of the LOLcats'. Now there's some quality journalism.

But i’m just one small blogger: Murdoch certainly isn’t going to read this and quickly change the editorial content on his news sites or scrap this new business model. But maybe that’s the thing; while there are thousands of ‘small’ bloggers reporting and commenting on the news, there will always be an alternative to the mainstream. And that’s what i’ll be consuming, thanks. For free.

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One Response to “Extra! Extra! (Cash)?”

  1. Lyndellnm said

    Hello ABC online.

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