Friday, August 07, 2009

Bidding war on horizon for real life magazine stories

Rupert Murdoch's plan to charge for content in his newspapers has taken a more solid form. The Sunday Times will be News International's stalking horse and Rupert has refined his "people will pay" dictum:
He claimed consumers were willing to pay for celebrity scoops and exclusive stories including revelations about MPs' expenses (from the Guardian's story)
This indicates (to me, anyway) that the NI chequebook will be out for the big celeb and scandal stories and also helps to explain Nicola Jeal's move from her position as head of the (possibly doomed) Observer's magazine division to the Times, as weekend editor. (See previous post)

The women's weekly market already pays big money for the best stories, so my guess is that Rupert has OK!, Hello and the other big players in his sights. Celebrity stories are fairly easy to spot, although getting the right ones for your specific readership is still an art, but didn't NI pass up the MP expenses disc?

If I am right, what does this mean for the Sunday Times brand? Andrew Neil has already said:
Murdoch's websites will have to change dramatically if the initiative is to succeed. "If you are going to charge you have to build a site that is different and has a distinct character. General news has become a commodity in a sense. You have to recreate the paper online." (Guardian story, as above)
Will there be sub-sites with different target readerships?
Will the overall effect be seen as devaluing the once mighty investigative organ?
Murdoch has never been afraid of reinvention, and perhaps it is this unsentimental streak that will actually allow him to succeed in imposing payments.


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