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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Where the media is not going

Rupert Murdoch has said he can see a future without printing presses. He's already planning to charge in some way for access to some of News International's websites. Does he know what he's doing? I would guess that he doesn't entirely but he knows he has to do something involving revenue rather than expenditure. The alternative is watching his print business drain away.

The reactions of the digerati are predictable, whether they're represented by Michael Wolff on his news aggregator (polite way of saying leecher) Newser or Jeff Jarvis on the Guardian Media Talk Podcast. It won't work, they say. If Rupert would only hang on a year or two, listen to his users and change his corporate culture a new dawn would eventually break in which News International would no longer be looking at a declining market.

I can't get over the blithe confidence of these guys. It's the same airy faith that it will all work out I find in anyone who works for a publicly-funded organisation or gets their money from a very large vault rather than from customers or advertisers. You can't help but think that if they really knew a radically new way of doing things they would be out there raising the finance to launch the big game-changer. Because if they're right there must be an enormous opportunity.

Rupert Murdoch probably doesn't know what's happening. I certainly don't. I am however prepared to stick my neck out and say what I'm pretty sure is not going to happen.

* "New models" are not going to be cooked up in universities or think tanks.
* The decline in ink and paper advertising revenue is not going to be replaced by digital advertising revenue. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.
* You can not blame this crisis on the short-sightedness and penny-pinching of all newspaper proprietors large and small.
* Since the internet abolished scarcity you can not get a premium on advertising revenue in premium environments.
* If users don't eventually pay in some way there will not be anything worth paying for.

Now tell me what is going to happen.