Newspapers and traditional media have seen their world and their business models crumble before their very eyes. Newspaper revenues have plummeted by nearly 30% in the last year alone, while newspaper circulation numbers are in the toilet. The web is destroying outdated business models and replacing them with more efficient ones.
Then This Google Thing Got Out of Hand
That was, until we learned that Microsoft and News Corp are in discussions to remove content from Google and that most recently, other newspapers and media companies are considering joining Murdoch’s insanity.
Let’s think about this: in a few months, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and most of the 56 daily newspapers of MediaNews Group could be de-indexed from Google and Google News(and in News Corp’s case, displayed prominently on Bing).
Experian Hitwise explored yesterday what would happen if this plan comes to fruition. As the following graph demonstrates, Google alone accounts for 20+ percent of newspaper traffic:
Some of that traffic would remain intact (we really doubt Murdoch would remove the homepage of the Wall Street Journal from Google, thus searches for the WSJ in general would remain unaffected), but overall it’d be a devastating traffic blow. Google is still the main method of information discovery online, and that trend will only grow as more kids turn to Google instead of the $0.75 daily.
In short: Rupert’s plan will gut his company and doesn’t set News Corp up for the future.
Rupert, We Understand Your Dilemma
Let’s give News Corp some leeway and a little credit though: they know that the old business models are dying and that they have to do something. Even back in August, we stated that good journalism isn’t cheap and that we have to find a better way to compensate media organizations for their work. Here is what we said about his plan to put his websites behind a paywall, with key points bolded:
“Murdoch has essentially declared that the free-for-all in online news has ended. Specifically, he states that good journalism isn’t cheap (that’s true) and that, while the web has made distribution cheap, it has not made it free. He also hopes to gain more revenue from major celebrity scoops from his tabloid papers (i.e. the Sun). His bet is that people will indeed pay for news content.:
The next paragraph explains our arguments, though:
“We’re not so sure. While we don’t disagree with the need to find additional revenue streams for newspapers and quality journalism, we think there are plenty of alternative news resources to turn to. Murdoch must see something encouraging at the WSJ, because he wouldn’t be going with this plan if he didn’t think they could replicate that model without losing significant readership.”
Sorry Rupert, but newspapers aren’t going to increase anytime soon and up-and-coming blogs and media companies aren’t going away. Maybe we were wrong about you seeing something in the WSJ model. Maybe you just don’t understand how media has been fundamentally altered by the web.
This Isn’t the Future of Media, Murdoch
We’ve had enough. Murdoch’s plan to de-index from Google is getting out of control, and it threatens to speed up the destruction of all traditional media. If other newspapers decide to join this insanity, here’s what will happen: more efficient organizations will step in to fill the gaps. There is no shortage of lean and socially savvy media organizations built in the last five years.
The future of media isn’t in The Wall Street Journal, no matter how much value it provides society. No, the future is in the web, fast-paced blogs, and social media. The future is in companies that realize that news a day old is, well, a day old. The future is in information discovery, not in hiding content.
We know your empire is not doing so well, Murdoch, but that doesn’t excuse you from taking your company down a path that will take you into oblivion. No Microsoft deal will fix the inherent problems with the newspaper business model.
What News Corp should be doing instead: Finding more efficient means of distribution, leveraging its revenue-generating assets, exploring new methods of payments, and encouraging innovation. We’re not psychics or high-profile consultants, but we know which models are winning and which ones are not.
In short, Murdoch, take your ball and go home. Your plan can only hurt News Corp.
“Take your Google Ball and go home” is taken from Mashable.com
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