Cash for clicks: lessons to be learned for online newspapers from other industries

Rupert Murdoch is set to charge online readers for news content – but how do you make people part with their money? Kevin Anderson asks what can be learned from the music, video and games industriesWith the recession cutting into profits at News Corp, Rupert Murdoch last week had a change of heart about charging for content online. In 2005, he predicted that the future of content on the internet would be driven by advertising. Now, he believes that if people want their news online, they will have to pay for it.More people than ever are reading news on the internet, but organisations have yet to find a way to translate those huge audiences into the kind of revenues they had in print. A handful of newspapers, most of them financial papers such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, have instituted digital subscriptions – it is as yet undetermined whether the FT’s introduction of a pay-per-view model next summer will replace or exist in conjunction with its subscription service – and the New York Times charges per article for premium content in its archives. But the planned standalone Sunday Times site will be a trial run for general news providers – and with the advertising market dropping, Murdoch is not alone in looking to charge for online content.

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