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Episode 184 - Murdoch vs. Google
Posted on 23 November, 2009 at 16:54 PM There are already 25 Comments

About the Show

David and Marc are concerned about the mentality that is surrounding the latest News culture. As good as citizen journalism can and will be, we still need the pro's and those pro's still need to be paid.

We believe that Murdoch's attitude towards charging for content that he produces is the right way to go.

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User Comments

Josh's Gravatar

Josh    23 Nov, 2009 16:14:18 PM

So... what is YOUR business model for them? I mean, whether I agree with whether or not that news corporations are necessary doesn't matter because I'm not planning on getting a subscription to a newspaper on or off line. Do you currently or are you going to? I suspect that most people just don't see the equity in paying someone for something that is free elsewhere. Even if it is recycled news coming from these major corporations, their business model has to change because people don't perceive it that way. I wouldn't completely discount the power of these citizen journalists. The fact that these news conglomerates are all married to one party or another and pushing a political agenda doesn't help their plight against the common blogger. Im not saying that what they are doing doesn't have value, but I like that they are experiencing heavy competition which is forcing them to improve a somewhat stagnant model. I don't think that pulling out of google is an appropriate or ethical option though.

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    23 Nov, 2009 16:39:39 PM

@Josh - First off, I pay for my news. I still buy the news paper and on some sites I subscribe to read their premium content.

I am not sure its the News guys who are ethically incorrect in this case. Google are pulling news, which costs someone money to produce, and then profiting off it by displaying their ads around them. The News corps, who pay huge money to produce quality content, own that content, they can whatever they want with it.

I don't have a business model for them, I just think that what they are threatening to do is a pretty good idea. Their current model is charge for news, except that they are currently charging for Printed news. They obviously need to move to the online space but at the moment online has a free culture which will kill these companies. So in order to continue charging for their news they need to keep it exclusive. I think you get my point.

Citizen Journalists don't exist in all corners of the globe. We are all assuming that everyone is using Social Media and therefore benefits from this kind of journalism. But that is not the case, the amount of people who have internet access in our country is TIIINNNY, so citizen journalism is like the cherry on top but not the core of the news.

Luke's Gravatar

Luke    23 Nov, 2009 16:42:05 PM

Come on guys, surely the onus lies with Murdoch and the media moguls to make the first move here? Google are quite clear about the simple methods, robots.txt files, robots meta tags, url removal requests etc that will allow them to opt out of the index tomorrow if they have the balls to do it.

Whilst I agree that quality professional journalism is obviously worth paying for, that doesn't matter if a new medium has allowed independent people - citizen journalists or whatever you call them - from outside the system to erode the demand from the marketplace.. the industry is in flux and the big corporates that depend upon the existing corporate superstructure, that are unable to adapt are inevitably going to be the first ones to feel pain in that situation. In that context, who are you ranting at? The game has changed the murdoch is just squealing like a wrinkly baby because he can't find the goalposts any more.

The fact that it's Murdoch, the owner of Fox, who is leading the charge here really does nothing for this cause. They have hardly been champions of hard-nosed journalism.. certainly not the kind I would be willing to pay for. just my 2c :)

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    23 Nov, 2009 16:52:52 PM

@Luke - I think the reason haven't pulled it yet with robots etc is because it's all about business. Murdi and his pals want to leverage their power and get a deal with Bing.

I totally agree that there is a place for the independents but to write off the major corps like some peeps are doing is not healthy thinking IMO.

Luke's Gravatar

Luke    23 Nov, 2009 17:07:57 PM

@David I'm sure you're right, it's not something to do lightly. Personally I hope Murdoch goes for it and opts out of the index, whether he makes a deal with Bing or not. I would love to watch that situation unfold and it might win him some respect from his detractors.

If I had to make a prediction I would say that News Corp is too much of a traditional mass media corporate and as such does not have the audience loyalty to be the torch bearer in this situation. Their products are traditionally glossy mags and prime time tv. Readers will simply go elsewhere for their content online.

Again, the landscape is changing radically due to the explosion of choice online. What we are seeing is an inevitability. The market for quality news has not shrunk it is just unfocused right now. Good journalists will always have a job to go to, and it's probably a good thing there are now more options as to where they take their skills.

Wikus's Gravatar

Wikus    23 Nov, 2009 18:35:47 PM

Having worked at a media / news company it is my opinion that the major news companies except maybe for Rueters Don't actually make the bulk of their revenue from selling their content. The R10.50 you pay for your newspaper or magazine normaly is only a fraction of what it cost to produce it. The real income comes from the advertisers. The same goes for online news / content sites. Since its much cheaper to produce they can make the content available for free.

A few publishers have adopted the model of paying citizen journalists for content on a revenue share basis. They charge Advertisers lets say R1.50 per ad impresion and the citizen journalist receives 50c for each time his article gets read.

If as a citizen journo you can manage to produce regular quality content on your own blog(unlike me) you should be able to attract enough traffic to sustain some form of advertising campaign. Im not talking about the likes of adgator or other affiliate marketing campaings.

Don't get me wrong I definitely think there is a market for paid content, but not where the consumer is concerned.This should be aimed at businesses or shoud be a very targeted niche aimed at the consumer

As long as there is free news available why would Joe soap pay R5.00 to view a news article , and as long as there are advertisers willing to advertise their products alongside the free news, the news will be free.

That's just my opinion, feel free to hack it to pieces ;)

Wikus's Gravatar

Wikus    23 Nov, 2009 18:37:02 PM

Almost forgot. Love your work guys, keep it up.

790Tv's Gravatar

790Tv    23 Nov, 2009 19:46:59 PM

The "pay for news" dilemma, quite a topic to come back with after such a long hiatus! I am going to use On the Couch as an example and I hope I can explain myself well enough. What would you guys call On the Couch? News, current affairs, video-blog? One or all of the above, it doesn't matter.

Firstly news and the juggernauts that own it in its current form are going to die. On the Couch is testament to that. You would never get a spot on a TV channel because your product is far to specific and specialised, because your product will not appeal to the masses and in return no advertiser would pay for you spot on the very expensive medium of TV.

The big news channels and newspapers including News Corp rely on advertising revenue to keep their big staff producing news. Expensive stand-up reporters and ENG teams go out on assignment and collect actually very little news for a hell of a lot of money. Advertising budgets are just not there anymore and these bastions of "free press" are falling and thankfully so.

The key to the future in news capture including news from a citizen journalist is to obviously monetise what they are doing. Now you may say news should not be bought, but it always has been bought. Every news channel has its own agenda dependent on who is fitting the bill.

What you guys are doing with On the Couch you may think is being done for free, but it is actually being subsidised by your online work. By hosting an On the Couch "regularly" you are strengthening what you do as a business by backing up what you have on offer by giving commentary. You guys have found a business model that pays for your news.

Likewise with 2Oceansvibe. He is a citizen journalist, there is no question about it. It may be brought to you in a slap-stick manner but he is bringing news to the public, payed by all his sponsors.

It is not a case of a business model being developed for news gathering, but rather news gathering being developed for business. Lets forget about TV, that is dying to. When you look at the figure generated around Youtube, we are moving to an online medium for all our "staring at a box" habits.

In the online space the key is to be specific and specialised in order to establish a niche. Once you have created a profile as a specific type of citizen journalist (of which you guys are) before long, brands and sponsors will want to be a part of who and what you are.

Richard Petersen's Gravatar

Richard Petersen    24 Nov, 2009 22:40:41 PM

What about the BBC???

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    25 Nov, 2009 00:11:28 AM

@Richard - Please enlighten me, what are the BBC up to?

Richard Petersen's Gravatar

Richard Petersen    25 Nov, 2009 00:46:18 AM

Murdoch's not worried about free speech he's worried about his back pocket. In the UK every household have to buy a TV licence which pays for BBC. So all the BBC channels don't have adverts played. Its a national institution.

One of the things the BBC is well know for is its coverage of the news. They have a massive news team network and unfortunately Murdoch's trying his hardest to hit back. When instead he should stop complaining and try to diversify and compete in different markets.


Luke's Gravatar

Luke    25 Nov, 2009 08:39:52 AM

Ha ha, had no idea Murdoch had been wailing on about the beeb as well. Shame man, he's like a senile version of Steve Ballmer.

Rob MacKay's Gravatar

Rob MacKay    25 Nov, 2009 14:36:28 PM

For all the whining and new ideas or whatever there is one thing that stands out in all of this. Pulling your content of the worlds largest search provider is a dumb ass idea.

So whatever he needs to do, how ever he needs to do it - removing himself from Google will be like shooting himself in the foot.

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    25 Nov, 2009 18:23:29 PM

Yoh, lot's to read here, got to give my brain some time to take this all in.

While I do that... Rob, why will they be shooting themselves in the foot? I bet 90 - 95% of the people who come from Google traffic would never pay for the content in any case. So what will they lose out on? Meaningless traffic?

Richard Petersen's Gravatar

Richard Petersen    25 Nov, 2009 20:05:32 PM

I Can see your point David but you have to look at the hard facts. What percentage of your visitors to your site purchase something? If you could get anywhere near 5% I thinking you would be minted.

But on a serious note I can see what Rob is getting at. The media industry is in deep trouble. They need to adapt and meet the needs of their changing market.

Just to really confuse things, I do like Murdoch's plan. He observing the masses and doing the opposite, one of the key strategies in business. No one has ever tried to take on Google in this way apart from China and look who one that one.

All in all, I'm looking forward to the future to see who wins. My Bets on a draw, Murdoch just want some of the ad revenue.

Rob MacKay's Gravatar

Rob MacKay    02 Dec, 2009 14:12:56 PM

I think he would be doing so for the simple reason that although he owns most of the news world he will be leaving open a window for this competitors to get in. If you removed what Murdock owns on news and media from Google, people will always search Google and end up going else where. Then what about when people are looking for a news service? Google... They then don't pick up on subscribers.

The people who are going to pay are always going to pay, traffic is never meaningless for the simple reason that a good article = word of mouth success... but if that article is never found no one is going to visit.

The more traffic the more chance you have of picking up subscribers, after proving you have a worth while and quality service.

If they don't have google to get people in they then have to spend money on advertising where as they could have done that via google - then using their business ways offered subscribers something that would rise above the normal news dross.

The BBC for example will never do what Murdock has done, it would be illegal as well as they are classed as a public service - so what do you do then? BBC gets more traffic... Murdock's news is forgotten about.

Therefore its a stupid idea, better to get the traffic in and then provide a hook for the readers to become consumers, for example exclusive interviews, promotions only accessible via subscribers...

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    02 Dec, 2009 15:40:28 PM

@Richard - thanks for the link, I was just about to link the CNN article before I clicked on yours.

To me that looks like a reaction from Google, which sort of means they did care slightly for what Murdoch was saying.

Luke's Gravatar

Luke    02 Dec, 2009 15:47:37 PM

Arianna Huffington has just published a fantastic article on Huff Po about Mr Murdoch and the broader problems the traditional news media is facing today.

Luke's Gravatar

Luke    02 Dec, 2009 15:48:23 PM

Doh, seems WP trashed my link, here it is: www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/journalism-2009-desperate_b_374642.html

David Perel's Gravatar

David Perel    02 Dec, 2009 15:54:20 PM

@Luke - lol, FtC doesn't use WP :) All custom built here. 2nd'ly, wow the Huff design is messy!

Luke's Gravatar

Luke    02 Dec, 2009 16:00:39 PM

Haha, messy or not though, Murdoch should probably pay attention to what they're doing if he wants to raise his game

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Huffington_Post#Investment en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Huffington_Post#Awards

Benjamin Rama's Gravatar

Benjamin Rama    02 Dec, 2009 19:58:37 PM

nothing in this world is free - somehwere along the line someone is making cash money --

Richard Petersen's Gravatar

Richard Petersen    03 Dec, 2009 00:28:50 AM

I think things can be available for free but cash creates development, growth but most importantly direction. Look at Linux, so many different version it can never compete with the big boys. On the other hand take Firefox which makes money doesn't have the amount of denominations as you'd expected it would have bearing in mind it is open source.

Iain Broome's Gravatar

Iain Broome    08 Dec, 2009 15:07:58 PM

I think the point you make here about not everyone having access to social media, or even the internet, is an extremely important one.

Inevitably, and somewhat ironically, the people most critical of having to pay for news are the people who have the most access to it, free or otherwise.

Here in the UK it's absolutely no bother at all to get an internet connection and start getting new from all angles. We're a wealthy, connected society. But that's simply not the case for the majority of countries.

The whole thing needs a lot more thought from both sides to make sure a solution is found that benefits all and excludes no one.