Murdoch to charge for all newspaper sites

News Corp yesterday reported its profits were down eight percent this year compared to fiscal year 2008

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has had a tough time making money this year, but Murdoch has a solution for the company's woes: online content protection and paywalls, which allow only paid subscribers to access certain content on a Web site.

News Corp yesterday reported its profits were down eight percent this year compared to fiscal year 2008. In a press release, Murdoch said 2009 was "the most difficult [year] in recent history" for the company. To slow the financial bleeding, Murdoch has decided that all of News Corp's newspaper sites will institute a paywall by next summer, according to the Guardian.

Echoing the sentiment "content isn't free," Murdoch yesterday told reporters during News Corp's earnings call that all of the company's newspaper properties would model their paywalls after the structure currently in place on The Wall Street Journal's Web site, according to tweets from Paid Content's Staci D Kramer.

The paywall at WSJ.com is often seen as the most successful model of its kind in the news business. The online version of the WSJ features a mix of freely available content, with certain premium articles--mostly financial news--available only to paid subscribers. Since News Corp owns many popular newspapers around the world, it's likely Murdoch's decision will have a ripple effect across the newspaper industry. The News Corp media empire contains some of the biggest newspaper properties in the world including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, as well as the U.K.-based papers The Times and News of the World.

Before Murdoch's statements, The New York Times was already thinking about reviving its own paywall--even though its previous paywall models were relatively unsuccessful. And in May of this year, newspaper executives from across the country met in Chicago to discuss the fate of their industry. The common theme at the meeting was that most newspapers would eventually start charging for some online content in an attempt to earn some money online, according to the Atlantic.

During the earnings call Murdoch also said that once News Corp properties start charging for content, the media company will move to aggressively protect its copyrighted content. The Associated Press recently announced a similar content-protection policy. The AP intends to use a piece of software to monitor where its news content appears online, and then attempt to charge money to third-party Web sites that overuse its content.

But will monetizing newspaper content work?

The problem with paywalls is that these models have been unsuccessful in the past. Many newspapers have done away with this system in recent years opting for ad-supported Web sites; however, Web advertising has not been able to make up for lost revenue from its physical newspaper product. So far, the only response newspapers can think of to stem the tide of lost dollars is to charge for their content.

But will customers be willing to pay for content they are used to getting for free? I think it's possible, but it depends on how much newspaper content ends up behind paywalls.

The other question is whether newspapers would allow the common trick of using Google to get around the WSJ paywall. When you want to read something on WSJ.com that's behind its paywall, all you have to do is copy the headline, plug it into Google and follow Google's link to read the complete article for free. The WSJ allows this loophole so it can grow its readership, and the paper probably hopes some of those free readers will subscribe in the future. Since Google helps to increase WSJ readership, the Google loophole is likely to remain in place and could become a trend at least for News Corp sites. But if that's the case, I wonder whether readers will be willing to fork over subscription fees, or whether the "Google washing" technique to keep on getting free content will become a common tactic among online readers.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?