Tuesday, November 2, 2010

'All The News That's Fit To Pay For'--Paid Journalism Paying Off For UK Times?

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Journalism as a business, with professional reporters digging out the facts and being scourged by steely-eyed editors mercilessly killing excess verbiage, seems to be making a bit of a comeback.

The other Times, the one in the UK, is one of News Corporation's biggest guns in Rupert Murdoch's campaign to lead the world back to the days of old.  Back then, subscribers paid for their newspapers, advertisers paid the publisher to get their message in front of those subscribers, and everyone seemed happy with that status quo.

Then came the internet, blogs, and main stream news organizations giving away their product online to hang onto readers, who flocked to alternate sources.  The newspaper business declined, journalists were let go, and things looked grim.

Today in England,  The Times says it is finding people are willing to support those who deliver their news.  Reports today say the Times has some 200,000 paying readers who get the paper in electronic format.

“Large numbers of people are willing to pay for quality journalism,” declares Rebekah Brooks, commenting on figures released in the UK today for the Times.  Brooks is chief executive of News International, publishers of the newspaper and a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Now the numbers get complex, to say the least.  The Guardian, in an article today, goes through a mind numbing calculation to decipher the Times figures.  

The confusion intrudes in the counting methods.  If a monthly subscriber gets the paper delivered electronically each day, there is a suggestion that subscriber counts as "1."  But if a non-subscriber "picks  up" the electronic paper on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, it seems as if that might count for "3" subscribers.

For iPad users, the Times is available in the Kindle Store for $9.99 a month--but not daily.  At the moment, you can only read the paper on your Kindle, and not on your computer, iPad, iPhone, and so on.

But the Amazon Kindle Team said last week, in a forum titled “Coming for Kindle,” that newspapers and magazines will “soon” be distributed to iPads and other devices with up-coming apps similar to “Kindle for iPad,” which currently delivers only books to iPad readers.

On this side of the pond, our Times--the New York Times--today seemed in the midst of a pricing gaffe, covered in our earlier report here on Planet iPad.

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