While everyone is worrying about the Microsoft – Murdoch attack on Google, by encouraging sites to remove themselves from Google indexing, others are putting another part of the Murdoch plan into effect now.

In a story from BBC News, we see that several news sites in the U.K are charging for the privilege of reading online, or else redirecting the user elsewhere –

One of the UK’s biggest newspaper firms is to charge for access to online content from six of its titles.

The Johnston Press websites will either ask users to pay £5 for a three-month subscription to read the full articles, or direct them to buy the newspapers.

Johnston is the first regional publisher in the UK to trial asking readers to pay for its online news.

Sites in the pilot scheme include the Worksop Guardian, the Ripley & Heanor News and the Whitby Gazette.

The Northumberland Gazette is also included in the trial. In Scotland, the Carrick Gazette and Southern Reporter are taking part.

Payment models

The Scotsman, also published by Johnston, operates a similar system for readers wishing to view “premium content” on its site.

Johnston, which owns more than 300 papers across Britain and has suffered from a drop in advertising revenues, says the introduction of “paywalls” is an experiment to assess the impact of charging for content.

“Once you start restricting access on the websites, if you have content that can broadly be found somewhere else, then you really restrict the number of people coming to websites,” the Guardian’s director of digital content Emily Bell told the BBC.

“I think it’s great that people are experimenting with lots of different models because undoubtedly we need to find more money in the market,” she added.

The Financial Times charges a subscription for full access to its web content.

Earlier this month, News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch said he would try to block Google from using news content from his companies.

Mr Murdoch has previously said that the websites of his news organisations would begin charging for access.

I don’t know about others, but if I begin to need to pay for my online news, it had better be something beneficial, it had better be actual news, and it had better be exclusive. Simply copying something from AP or another service is not going to win my dollars for long.

Actually, online news that I must pay for is not going to do well at winning my dollars – as long as sites that I can choose to support on my terms (PBS, NPR, etc.) remain available.

So much of what we read today is simply the same story regurgitated several ways, and most of them not having a new or different slant. One element that might (hopefully) wither and die will be the Enquirer – TMZ type trash, that becomes so clogging on sites such as MSN, and several other portals. Maybe if that type of ‘data‘ gets restricted, we can know where it lives, and avoid it like the plague.

Will this catch on? Maybe. But it should cause both sides of the equation to be more discriminating, and cautious about laying down the ducats.




I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance – waiting for the bathroom.

Bob Hope

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