Newspaper transition to digital

There are a couple of interesting posts on this topic this morning.

First paidcontent reports the following:

  • John Ridding, CEO of the Financial Times and FT.com, says his business makes 20 percent of revenue from online
  • Tim Brooks, MD of Guardian News and Media, paidContent:UK’s parent company, said it was 15 percent for Guardian New Media
  • Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has already said he expects the company’s Berliner presses bought in 2005 will be its last—the presses have a shelf life of 25 years so theoretically 2030 is the switch-off date for The Guardian and The Observer in print.
  • FT.com gets less free: the FT‘s Ridding predicts a “happy digital ending” for newspapers, but said the answer will be found through subscriptions, not advertising – and they have reduced the number of free stories readers can access from 30 to 10 a month (you can get round this by deleting your cookies though ;))

To me this makes it abundantly clear that if there was any remaining doubt about where the world is going that is now over.  Between this and the Kindle and books on the iPhone I am 100% sure that printed newspapers are going the way of horse drawn carriages.

Which means that for existing newspapers the choice is adapt or die.

Which brings me to the second interesting post. A list of 10 US papers that look like they are going to take the ‘die’ option.

What is less clear to me is how the balance between ad supported and subscription models will pan out.  David of 37Signals has a post up today asking ‘how did the web lose faith in charging for stuff’, and it is interesting to note that the FT is backing subscriptions.  Yet on the other hand Chris Andersen’s arguments about free are pretty persuasive.

  • Hi Nic,

    It's also interesting to note just how large the *global* audiences are for online papers now based in the UK. Jan 09, Guardian 30million and Telegraph 26million. Unique users. The Telegraph was up over 100% year on year.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/feb/26/rec

    The Guardian's move today will increase those numbers.

    These are success stories.

    James

  • I would bet that newspapers will be split between free with advertising and a freemium model. The FT has the specialist content to be able to go down the freemium route. The Guardian also has strength in depth in certain sectors – Media on Mondays etc so I could see them going down this route once they stop printing copies.

  • Thanks for the link. The way I see it going is 'newspapers' becoming less and less like newspapers and more like versatile digital publishers. The revenue from print sales and print ads is obviously shrinking (it will come back to *some* extent in 09/10). So while they're building digital ad networks, there will be moves into e-commerce, paid-for services like dating, games, even maybe search — basically all the things that successful web companies do, and not just news. So they're digital publishers who do newspapers too, rather than the other way around — or at least that's the plan!

  • I would bet that newspapers will be split between free with advertising and a freemium model. The FT has the specialist content to be able to go down the freemium route. The Guardian also has strength in depth in certain sectors – Media on Mondays etc so I could see them going down this route once they stop printing copies.

  • Thanks for the link. The way I see it going is 'newspapers' becoming less and less like newspapers and more like versatile digital publishers. The revenue from print sales and print ads is obviously shrinking (it will come back to *some* extent in 09/10). So while they're building digital ad networks, there will be moves into e-commerce, paid-for services like dating, games, even maybe search — basically all the things that successful web companies do, and not just news. So they're digital publishers who do newspapers too, rather than the other way around — or at least that's the plan!

  • instead of grabbing the Yellow Pages and making a bunch of phone calls to people who’re busy on the job and trying to talk over the hammer

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  • They’re digital publishers who do newspapers too, rather than the other way around — or at least that’s the plan!

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