May 8, 2009
I guess there was more important news this morning – Pakistan, the American banks – but it was Rupert Murdoch who caught my attention. I was stunned to read Andy Clark’s dispatch in the Guardian this morning about Murdoch planning on charging for access to his properties on the internet.
[efoods]Look, Rupe usually knows what he’s doing. But this really flies in the face of common sense. He argues that the Wall Street Journal’s experience proves that one can successfully charge readers for internet access to one’s newspapers.
But does it? The Journal and the Financial Times, are kind of sui generis. They’re financial newspapers, read by a global financial elite. You can charge global financial elites to read a tailored product of financial news.
But can you do the same with regular readers, to get them to read general-interest news? The universal experience has been that you can’t.
The New York Times tried it and got hammered. It charged for so-called “Times Select” content – most prominently the paper’s famous opinion columnists like Paul Krugman and David Brooks – for a little while, hoping to crowbar $50 a year out of saps like me.