Tag Archives: News Corporation

NY Times’ David Carr Pitch to ‘Occupy Newsrooms’ Spurs Comment Frenzy

New York Times media critic David Carr has struck a populist nerve with his latest column.  In his Monday “Media Equation” piece, Carr admonished Gannett, the massive print and broadcast media chain, for an editorial from its own USA Today about the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the editorial, the newspaper decried the Wall Street bonus system, listing it as one of the good reasons for the weeks-long protests.

Carr found this a bit hypocritical. “If you were looking for bonus excess despite miserable operations, the best recent example I can think of is Gannett, which owns USA Today,” he wrote. Thousands of readers were incensed by the column — in a good way. Some 235 people commented on it, many reacting with the same disgust Carr expressed. “I have always been mystified by the rarified ranks of the uber-execs who command these kinds of salaries in any industry. It seems to be some kind of club like Skull & Bones that once you are admitted, you are set for life,” Richard Williamson of Dallas wrote. “it’s disgusting watching these failures award themselves millions for destroying tens of thousands of lives,” Linda from Brooklyn wrote. “but it does speak to the overwhelming corruption of american corporate ‘governance.'” Other media critics, like the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade, chimed in as well: The ever-readable New York Times media commentator David Carr has contrasted what a newspaper says with what its publisher does.”

Carr, who has turned into a media star himself over the past couple of years, is no stranger to going after corporate excess or malpractice – whether he’s exposing the “bankrupt culture’ at Tribune or a history of ethical lapses at News Corp. properties. The problem at Gannett, he argued, is that while the company’s stock price continues to tank and workers lose their jobs, recently departed CEO Craig A. Dubow netted $37 million upon announcing his resignation. And that’s on top of the sky-high salary he has been earning. Yet if most agreed with Carr wholeheartedly, other readers seemed to think he picked the wrong target – keep the focus on Wall Street! Still others felt this was nothing revelatory, that this is rather obvious. And, of course, some had proposals for new targets to occupy. Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Newsrooms! Occupy Everything


The new Times and Sunday Times go live – paywall means see all or see nothing – no aliases on the comment section either

The new websites of The Times and Sunday Times went live Tuesday for a free trial period ahead of the adoption of an all-or-nothing paywall. The sites will be free to view to those who register for around a month, after which all content except the homepages will go behind a paywall, rendering it invisible to search engines. This paywall big bang is far more ambitious than existing paywalls at titles such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal which allow limited free access and let casual browsers to view articles via search engines like Google. In another radical departure, the sites will only allow subscribers to comment under their real names. Those wishing to comment anonymously will have to make a case to editorial staff for doing so. For the Sunday Times it will be the first time the title has had a standalone website. Around 35 additional staff have been taken on to produce thesundaytimes.co.uk, which is more visual and magazine-like than thetimes.co.uk – that site more closely resembles the print edition. This week’s launches will mark the first step in News Corporation proprietor Rupert Murdoch’s bid to charge for content across all his newspaper titles. The Sun and News of the World are set to follow later this year.


More than half Australian newspaper content is PR-led spin, says six-month study

Over half of Australian newspaper content is driven by PR, a new study in Australia has reported. During the course of six months, 40 students from University of Technology (UTS) Sydney worked with independent media site Crikey to monitor Australian news content in ten newspapers, seven of which are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Nearly 55 per cent of stories analysed in a five day period (more than 2203 articles) were instigated by public relations, Crikey reported. The worst performer was the Murdoch-owned tabloid, the Daily Telegraph: 70 per cent of stories were PR driven. The best of the ten papers was Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald with 42 per cent PR prompted stories for that week. The study, which requires a subscription to read in full, says that it defined journalism as PR driven “if it was instigated from a press release or some other form of promotional material; or if a story clearly presented only one, highly positive slant or framed one source in a promotional manner without including any independent verification or additional source”. It also reported that of 2203 articles, more than 24 per cent, “had no significant extra perspective, source or content added by reporters”. It’s not the first time the Australian press has come under fire for his PR-hungry news: Last October ABC’s Hungry Beast spread a story that Sydney is the most gullible city in Australia, according to the completely fabricated Levitt Institute


Abu Dhabi hopes high for media forum

Abu Dhabi is gearing up for a gathering of old and new media leaders from east and west this week which it hopes will establish the emirate as the undisputed hub from which media companies can tap into the growth offered by Arabic-speaking markets. The inaugural Abu Dhabi Media Summit has drawn some of the industry’s biggest US names, ranging from Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, to Eric Schmidt, the Google chief executive with whom Mr Murdoch has clashed about online content. However, its backers note that they will appear alongside challengers from faster-growing markets, such as Sunil Bharti Mittal of India’s Bharti Enterprises, Mohammed Omran from Etisalat, the Emirates telecoms group, and Mehmet Ali Yalç*ndag of Turkey’s Dogan Media. The executives have been drawn by underdeveloped media markets with demographic and digital growth dynamics that their home countries may never offer again, according to Karim Sabbagh of Booz & Co, the consultancy. The Middle East and north Africa represents “one of the few markets where media [revenues are] still growing in double digits, even in traditional spaces”, he said. The region’s media and entertainment markets should expand from USD 14.1bn in 2009 to USD 26bn by 2013, Booz estimates, while broadband subscriber numbers should grow at 30 per cent a year for the next four years


What Rupert Murdoch Still Doesn’t Get About the Internet

Rupert Murdoch knows who’s winning the war between big media and the Internet. Unsurprisingly, it’s Rupert Murdoch. “Without content, the ever-larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless,” he proclaimed when News Corp. posted unexpectedly strong fiscal 2010 second-quarter earnings. “Devices and platforms are proliferating but this clever technology is merely an empty vessel without any great content.”

Murdoch danced a lively jig for investors as he bragged about his company’s ability to thrive in the media tumult caused by the Internet. I’m not buying it. News Corp. may be getting a big lift from “Avatar” right now, but like any big media company, it still has a lot of learning, experimenting and failure to do before it can really start to monetize the web. The arrival of the iPad and other tablet devices may, in time, make that easier. But first they will make it much harder by speeding up the process of adaptation.

The most difficult thing about the disruption facing the media industry hasn’t been the certain sense that business models are changing — it’s that nobody is sure how they’re changing. But one important idea is starting to become clear: Content isn’t a product anymore, it’s a service. Because for consumers, content is less and less a thing they buy and more a thing they experience.

The notion emerged a couple of years ago, with the likes of Kevin Kelly alleging that the Internet is essentially a copy machine and asking what can be sold that isn’t easily copied. Others took it even further, to the notion of content as a service.

Over at his O’Reilly blog, Andrew Savikas wrote:

Whether they realize it or not, media companies are in the service business, not the content business. Look at iTunes: if people paid for content, then it would follow that better content would cost more money. But every song costs the same. Why would people pay the same price for goods of (often vastly) different quality? Because they’re not paying for the goods they’re paying Apple for the service of providing a selection of convenient options easy to pay for and easy to download.

It’s no accident that Apple has been thriving in this chaos. And it’s no surprise that the iPad was designed to enhance the experience of web media in ways that are more immersive and intuitive than either laptops or smartphones. In fact, the iPad seems to be built on the blunt assertion that content is now something to be experienced rather than possessed. Selling content — whether it’s news, music, books or something else — as a product on a tablet is setting yourself up for disappointment. 

This evolution in content is clearer in music, which was the first to feel significant disruption from the Internet. Twenty years ago, buying music meant purchasing a CD after you heard a song on commercial radio (or, for the adventurous, college radio) or read a review in a magazine. Today, music is becoming an experience that begins with discovery sites like Pandora or social network sites like Twitter and end up in a cloud-based service like Spotify or Grooveshark. Significantly, these companies are startups and not traditional media giants.

In short, the old media giants need to think like startups: That is, look at the iPad with the eyes of any other app developer and imagine what it can do that hasn’t been done before. How will a tablet change the experience of books, news, music, and so on? And why will we consumers be willing to pay for that new experience? These are the questions to start with, rather than asking how to shovel the same old content products onto devices that radically transform what content is.

Murdoch is right that those devices are lifeless without content, but he neglects to mention that it’s a symbiotic relationship. “Content is not just king, it is the emperor of all things electronic!” he crowed. Maybe, but this emperor is wearing the service uniform of a burger flipper. When do we get fries with that content?


Crashing into the paywall – will Murdoch manage it on time?

Is something rotten in the state of News Corp? With the whole pay wall revolution seemingly only minutes away, Rupert Murdoch is still “looking at alternatives” for a spring launch, with theoretical partners,Steve Brill’s Journalism Online still small and local it seems.  The Times Online recently appointed Gurtej Sandhu to oversee the venture set to explode on our screens this spring, yet in a conference call to reporters talking about News Corporation’s results Murdoch had this to say.

“We’re looking at various alternatives – and I don’t think we’re ready to announce yet. We’re in the midst of a lot of talks with a lot of people that are coming to a head – and you’ll hear a lot more from us in the next two months. We’ll be charging for online wherever we have publications.”

Spring?  When you are still in talks with a bunch of potential suppliers and still weighing up options? No doubt it will happen, but don’t you think News Corp is flapping around struggling to find something that works for them and to catch up with the Dirty Digger’s own high minded rhetoric on the subject. I believe he also said places like Australia would be a few months behind other countries, why’s that then? Should all believers in free online news start subscribing to Aussie papers for now?

Meanwhile , back on the farm, The New York Times reported last year that Steve Brill’s Journalism Online venture had signed up its first 500 and then a 1,000 partners for its venture that would create a system (now called Press+) allowing newspapers and magazines to charge for content while it took 20%. The partners were all unnamed. Wow!  But who are they? It appears that now we know the ‘big hitters’ (or at least some of them) they include The Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era,  based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it has a circulation of 44,000 and a name as long as a Welsh train station. Other top flight catches include The Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina. It has a circulation of 61,875 and then the third partner is revealed to be a news site in Boston called the GlobalPost.

The New York Times piece goes on to say that Journalism Online claims now to have 1,300 news sites around the world signed up – but will not name them – why’s is that then, when the paid for content is less than a few weeks away?   Could it be that Steve Brill and Co appear to be struggling to find big hitting partners?

‘Methuselah’ Murdoch is doing his own thing as is the New York Times (in 2011 – a paid content odyssey) but there are plenty of other ‘Big Hitters,’ such as The Guardian, who want nothing to do with it as yet. No doubt these guys in News Corp will make paid for content mechanisms work but is this streamlined sleek newspaper machine really not racing to catch up with the Dirty Digger’s vision?

If you wanted another clue here it is. Guess where The Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era is trialling its foray into paid content and its Journalism Online effort. It’s news right? No. It’s sports coverage maybe? No. It’s business news? No. It is starting with obituaries. Maybe Rupert (at his ripe old age) is to be the gobal leader in paid content in more ways than one? What a nice marketing angle.

Ernest J. Schreiber, editor of the Lancaster paper’s site, LancasterOnline.com told the NY Times: “We’re starting small, so if this really turns people off, we’re not playing with a huge chunk of our readership. “We have news that no one else has, like these obituaries. We would eventually take other sections of our online content into the system. I’m thinking local sports, perhaps.”

Now that really is vision.


Nearly half of Google News users just read headlines: report

Nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to newspaper websites, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The findings by Outsell Inc. appear likely to provide further ammunition to publishers such as News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch who have criticized Google and other aggregators for linking to stories without sharing ad revenue. Google, responding to the criticism in the past from media tycoon Murdoch and others, has said it drives “about 100,000 clicks every minute” to media websites, generating ad revenue for the news outlets. Outsell analyst Ken Doctor said in a statement that “among the aggregators, Google’s effect on the newspaper industry is particularly striking. “Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it’s also taking a significant share away,” Doctor said. “A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers’ individual sites.” Thirty percent of those surveyed said they do not use Google to find news stories, preferring to use other search services or to go directly to news publisher sites. Twelve percent said they use Google to get to a news site and then use the search function on that site to find other stories. Fourteen percent said they go back to Google to find other newspaper stories