It would be an understatement to say we are living in changing times, revolution has called and Rubert Murdoch blew the final whistle. Murdoch has said that there is a plan to release a News Corp e reader which will be in direct completion to Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle e reader allows books, magazines and newspapers to be wirelessly downloaded directly to the device.
Downloading of newspapers, the digital subscriptions to newspaper, purchasing news content; these are all goals for the journalism industry. As I have shown before, the sales of newspapers have been dropping steadily every year. The cause of this problem is simple, ‘Why buy a newspaper when news is freely available online?’
Rupert Murdoch has called the end of free news content online. “The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites.”
All of his publications will need a subscription from next year to view content online. In some parts of the industry Murdoch has been met with criticism but most praise this move. We are living between two very different ages. One day (people my age) will be telling our kids of how, in the past, newspapers were printed on paper. You could access news content free online and how those good old days have now passed.
It is easy for us as consumers to scoff and announce our total rejection of Murdoch’s money making scheme. I have to admit that paying to read The Sun online brings uncontrollable shakes of disapproval to my body. However, will paying for journalism online become a necessity eventually? If The Sun had an exclusive celebrity story, which could only be read from The Sun, would you be prepared to pay subscription? Alternatively you could buy The Sun newspaper and read the story that way.
Murdoch’s scheme is money making but is also a method to heal the journalism industry. To give the industry a new breath of financial life and have it fuelled by costs other than advertising.
The BBC is technically already doing what Rupert Murdoch has proposed. Our license fee to the BBC could be viewed as a subscription cost to BBC News. The example fails for anybody who doesn’t purchase the license fee; views the BBC from abroad but the BBC do receive payment for their news services. There is no doubt that the BBC will be the mainstream content against other news sites offering subscription as the BBC provides content without subscription. The license fee dominates the market and with Murdoch’s subscription plan, other newspapers will eventually move the same way and the BBC will certainty come under attack and criticism.
I am utterly convinced that paying subscription for newspapers online will be:
- Only the first stages of reinventing journalism’s model
- A necessity for being the only way to one day view newspapers
In 1984 there were 1000 internet devices in the world. In 2008 the number of internet devices in the world rose to 1,000,000,000. The amount of digital devices in the world is constantly increasing and with this will change how the internet will be viewed. The internet will become increasingly handheld and the majority of the content on the internet will one day be viewed through our PDAs, Mobiles (if a conventional mobile still exists then) and e readers.
In the UK e readers have hardly penetrated our market yet. Sony primarily dominates but the majority of people are still sceptical about moving away from paper books. What I can see on the horizon is a Harry Potter scenario, where ink will move on the newspaper’s pages and now we have the technology to do that.
eInk provides the technology for almost every e reader on the market. eInk essentially allows a digital paper display. This is achieved through positively and negatively charging ink molecules to change a position on a display. There is no glare from an e reader, it appears as paper and the battery is only needed when ink needs to change pattern. A charge is not needed for electronic ink to stand on a page. Due to this a single charge on a lithium battery will keep an e reader going for almost 2 weeks with heavy use.
The Amazon Kindle, which is currently only available in America, does more than read eBooks though. It allows you to digitally subscribe to newspapers and magazines; this truly challanges newspapers. Why carry newspapers, magazines and books around with you when you could use a paper thin device to host them all? Whilst the Kindle only allows subscription at the moment other e readers will follow suit.
Online subscriptions to newspapers won’t just be online. Eventually you will be able to subscribe monthly to receive newspapers on your e reader.
So am I dreaming? Not really. Amazon is working very hard to get their Kindle e reader over to the UK following their success in the American market. As we speak Amazon are apparently sorting out subscription deals with newspapers, magazines and mobile operators. The technology for e readers is constantly improving and Sony (the current leading e reader in the UK) is releasing further additions to their e reader product line.
Whilst e readers have not captivated a wide audience through the purchasing of digital books, I think they will change the way we read newspapers. I would like to believe that e readers will have an explosion of popularity this Christmas but alas I am an innovator. I will be buying the new Kindle when it comes out this Christmas, subscribing to newspapers and magazines but it may take longer for the majority of the public to catch up. I believe Murdoch is aware of the eNewspaper future. This might just be his first move, the industry’s first move, for properly accepting digital technology and journalism can work together.