Thursday, March 18, 2010

News International puts its cards on the table

This is the internal communication that went out to all News International staff today in reference to how they’ll be changing their digital proposition. It’ll be interesting to see this play out over the coming weeks. Will it bring a sea change in both journalism and publishing (as they are in fact different things)? They’re not alone in changing their approach. Hearst recently made a dramatic move and removed all their mobile websites for their US titles last November and have now switched to a paid-for mobile apps strategy. The jury’s still out on this paid content lark and I don’t suppose we’ll know the answers until it actually happens with our UK mainstream media too.


Message from Rebekah Brooks

Those of you that subscribe to The Times and The Sunday Times or have registered on Times Online will receive a communication starting from this week inviting you to register for an exclusive preview of the new digital proposition. This shows that we are getting closer to the launch of the titles’ new digital sites.

I have made no secret of our intention to start charging for quality journalism online. As you may have seen speculation in the media about our plans, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know why we believe this is such an important development.

We are committed to producing quality journalism that is written by professionals with a profound understanding of their subject and a commitment to provide well-informed coverage of the issues. Each of our titles, in its own way, has pioneered quality, professional journalism and we are unashamed to say we believe it has value.

In contrast, the industry is making the mistake of chasing millions of unique users by giving the audience more and more content for free. An obsession with traffic just doesn’t pay.

Great journalism needs investment and we are committed to supporting the fantastic work that you are all producing and delivering to our audiences. It is the quality of the journalism that you create, and the ways in which we produce and distribute it, that will continue to set our titles apart from the competition.

And to be clear, when we talk about charging for our content online, we are talking about charging a fair price. Price alone will not be a barrier to take up. Of course, we expect to see the numbers of unique users of our sites come down dramatically. But the people who register to our new digital products will be customers who have made a positive decision to pay a fair price for journalism that they value, and they will be those who are more committed to and engaged with our titles.

This is an exciting development for our company especially as we will be among the first in the world to take this step. There are many who declare we have set ourselves an impossible task. But our company loves nothing more than challenging the status quo.

Shortly I will update you on our plans in more detail. But, in the meantime, I believe that with the combined force of your talent, commitment and hard work, we will, in the months and years to come, define a new future in the way we create, deliver and profit from our journalism.

Rebekah Brooks

Chief Executive, News International