Murdoch On Newspapers' Future

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It's an invigorating and more than usually smart take on the new winds shaping the course of the journalism industry. Money quote:

Unlike the doom and gloomers, I believe that newspapers will reach new heights. In the 21st century, people are hungrier for information than ever before. And they have more sources of information than ever before. Amid these many diverse and competing voices, readers want what they’ve always wanted: a source they can trust. That has always been the role of great newspapers in the past. And that role will make newspapers great in the future. If you discuss the future with newspapermen, you will find that too many think that our business is only physical newspapers. I like the look and feel of newsprint as much as anyone. But our real business isn’t printing on dead trees. It’s giving our readers great journalism and great judgment. It’s true that in the coming decades, the printed versions of some newspapers will lose circulation. But if papers provide readers with news they can trust, we’ll see gains in circulationon our web pages, through our RSS feeds, in emails delivering customized news and advertising, to mobile phones. In short, we are moving from news papers to news brands.

The challenge is to use a newspaper’s brand while allowing readers to personalise the news for themselvesand then deliver it in the ways that they want. This is what we are now trying to do at The Wall Street Journal. The journal has the advantage of having a very loyal readership … a brand known for quality … and editors who take the readers and their interest seriously. This helps explain why the journal continues to defy industry trends. Of the ten largest papers in the United States, the journal is the only one to have grown its paid subscriptions last year. At the same time, we intend to make our mark on the digital frontier. The journal is already the only US. newspaper that makes real money online. One reason for this is a growing global demand for business news and for accurate news. Integrity is not just a characteristic of our company, it is a selling point. One way we are planning to take advantage of online opportunities is by offering three tiers of content. The first will be the news that we put online for free. The second will be available for those who subscribe to wsj.com. And the third will be a premium service, designed to give its customers the ability to customize high-end financial news and analysis from around the world.

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