According to a recent study, we’re not overly impressed with Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for usage of his online news sites. Of 2,000 people asked if they’d ever pay for online news, 9 out of 10 said ‘No!’ ;.Does that imply that Murdoch’s decision to charge users to get into his news sites is foolish?

I wouldn’t pay for news, either, unless…

If I were asked ‘would you ever pay for online news?’, I may possibly say ‘no’, too. After all, in an age once we can usually learn about major events on Twitter before the news channels report them, why would we ever want pay for access with their content?

However, I’d, and often do, pay for quality and ‘luxury’ news. I would not pay a dollar for one of the shrinking amount of free newspapers handed out on my solution to work in a morning Nigerian Newspapers, but I’d pay for a Sunday broadsheet with all its extras and trimmings (even though the likelihood of me actually reading greater than a few pages are really small).

I have also been known to join a settled members’ area on the internet site of a particular football team (which shall remain nameless) to gain access to extra content not available on the key website: video interviews and press conferences, highlights of reserve and youth team matches, live radio commentary on match days.

Would I pay to learn The Sun online? No. There are usually no more than 2 paragraphs in each image-dominated article anyway. It only costs a few pennies to purchase genuine so there wouldn’t be much value in using its site. The Times? Maybe, but only when all the quality news outlets starting charging, otherwise I’d just go for the free one.

Utilizing a Credit Card for a 20p Article?

I’m unsure just how much Mr Murdoch wants to charge his users to learn a write-up, but I’m guessing there is going to be some type of account that really needs setting up. I certainly couldn’t be bothered to obtain my wallet out each time I needed to learn something and I will be very hesitant to commit to subscribing.

On another hand, if they’d a similar system to iTunes, whereby you just enter your password to gain access to a settled article and your card is billed accordingly, which may make a bit more sense. But, if I had to do that for each and every major news provider, it’d become very tiresome.

Ultimately, they could be shooting themselves in the foot for some extent. If the website makes it harder and less convenient for me personally to learn a write-up, I’ll probably go elsewhere. I’d assume that I’d always manage to read the news free of charge on the BBC’s website, which will not be good news for the advertising revenue of the Murdoch online empire.

Copycats

Assuming that I actually wanted to learn a write-up on a settled site so badly that I handed over my credit card details for them, what might stop me ‘reporting’ about what the content said on my freely available blog? I’d imagine it will be very difficult for a newspaper group to stop thousands of bloggers disseminating the info freely with their users who would gain lots of traffic in the process.

Recipe for Success?

The success or failure of paid news is in the method used to charge and engage with users, let’s assume that the users value the information highly enough to deem it worth paying for. The jury is unquestionably still out on the whole concept and the chances are that lots of will try and fail before a profitable system is developed. Until then, we’ll have to attend and see.

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