Murdoch Wants you to Pay

Do you watch the news?  I mean, on TV, do you watch the nightly news?  Or do you get your news from a newspaper?  Perhaps the New York Times, or the Boston Globe?  Do you at least read the local paper like the Indianapolis Star or the Johnson County Chronicle?  Well, then where are you getting your news?

If you are like me you are getting it from places like and  I get nearly all of my news from online sources.  I cannot tell you the lat time I bought a newspaper.  (Well, just last week actually.  I am a Tiger Woods fanatic and any time he is on the front page of a magazine or a newspaper I grab a copy for my collection.)  I read updated posts from the BBC and from Yahoo! News all the time and I even have text message updates come to my phone from the Associated Press and CNN when breaking news strikes.

The beautiful thing about reading all of my news online is that I do not have to pay for it.  Well, for now at least.  Reports from many trusted news feeds (see, I am even hearing about this on those free news sources) say that our free news might not be so free for much longer.  According to Rupert Murdoch we will begin paying for news as early as next summer.  (Please tell me that you know who he is.)

Murdoch is an Australian born news junkie.  His main focus, currently and for the lat few dozen years, is his relationship with News Corp.  He is the managing director and chairman, as well as a major shareholder, in this news and media giant.  Murdoch began his career as a news mogul with one newspaper in his hometown and has turned himself into the 132nd richest man in the world thanks to breaking stories all over our planet.  (What does that list look like?  I want to know one, what they use to judge a person’s net worth, and two, who the 131 people are that are above him.  I want to be on that list.  I wonder where I would stack up?)

But why are people throwing their arms up when being told he or she will have to pay for their news?  I mean, up until this point, you paid for that paper to give you the latest gossip on your new neighbors.  You paid for that Time Magazine to bring you up to speed on the latest political battles going on in Washington.  So why is it such a big deal when they tell you that you have to pay to have access to these websites?

Now, before you do throw yourself off a bridge, know that not all content will cost an arm and a leg.  For example, if you do not subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine and you head to their website, you can read certain articles and get your daily fill of the music industry.  But you will be limited to what you can read.  If you log in, however, as a paid subscriber to the print magazine, you then will have access to articles and coverage that you would not able to see otherwise.  And Rolling Stone is not the only magazine like this.  GQ, Golf Digest, and Xbox Magazine all handle their online material the same way.  (I am sure there are many more but those are the ones that I subscribe to and that I have personal experience with.  So in theory, you are already paying for your news in some circles.

Murdoch says that a decrease in newspaper and magazine sales are forcing this change.  He claims that the only solution for this decrease is to generate an income somewhere else.  But my thought is why would you start charging for online content and continue printing newspapers and magazines?  I mean, if you were going to be paying for the same content on your screen, as you would get on your fingers, why would you pay for both.  I personally hate reading the newspaper.  And I rarely actually read a magazine article from start to finish.  I am there for the pictures and the advertisements, as much as I hate them.  (The latest issue of GQ Magazine has 82 pages of ads before you even hit the table of contents and then an additional 32 pages before the first article begins.)

With all these forthcoming changes, the decrease in sales is not solely linked to the Internet.  You have to look at other factors such as the state of the economy, the age of those that are actually reading the news, all of the digital natives out there taking advantage of the act he or she is online from the time they wake up until the time they hit the pillow, and the way that the news is presented to us in such a depressing manner.  I cannot tell you the last time I read my way through a New York Times (or any other for that matter) article and did not feel irritated, angry, and down right disappointed after I finished it.  If the article does not include death, deceit, and utter turmoil then no one wants to publish it.

So is this the start of paid online content?  We already pay for the service but are we going to have to pay for the content next?  According to Rupert Murdoch you will before the turn of the decade.  Next thing we know we will have to swipe a credit card to even turn our computers on.