Rupert Murdoch, who really is one of the smartest guys in the room, even in the Autumn season, as opposed to one of those pumped up MBA carpetbaggers, has recognized the need to get real on content, syndication and business models so News Corporation (owns Fox News) can compete in a craigslist googlezon participatory news future. Its worth reading the transcript because there is some really good stuff in there.
While Rupert points to an interesting statistic, though, he may not fully understand the new laws of influence and more importantly, new patterns of media consumption. News is getting Tivo-d, same as everything else is. That is, digital everything must somehow allow for time shifting with consumers skipping ads.
Today, to the extent anyone is a destination, it’s the internet portals: the Yahoos, Googles, and MSNs. I just saw a report that showed Google News’s traffic increased 90 percent over the past year while the New York Times’ excellent website traffic decreased 23 percent. The challenge for us – for each of us in this room – is to create an internet presence that is compelling enough for users to make us their home page.
I am just not sure this portal idea works. We want to choose how we consume news. Google News comes to me, not the other way around. Its a question of attention. Steve Gillmor makes a great point today about the attention economy and how a significant barrier to entry is created by the simple act of not offering full text RSS feeds. I have been meaning to give the Doc a nudge about this issue for a while; every time i get his feeds they carry the tagline newsisfree. but then i have to go to his site. well its not blooming free then; because the content requires me to come to your site. Its not a heavyeight registration, but it does prevent me from reading news and views fast, in my chosen context- that is, Bloglines. If that’s a barrier to entry in the blogosphere though, imagine how hard it is for traditional media outlets to cope with the new reality of syndication. Time is currency.
While Murdoch points to falling subscription figures at the NY Times website (which the Times denies) I would argue he needs to take a long look at these numbers (from the same NYT rebuttal):
NYTimes.com’s RSS feeds generated 5.9 million pageviews on the site in March, which represents a 342% increase year over year and a 39% increase from February’s 4.3 million pageviews.
Questions over circulation numbers and NYT registration and approaches aside, i think its important and interesting that the newspaper is tracking and reporting on its RSS readership.
I dont want to parse the whole Murdoch transcript other than to say read it. Take the time; its worth it.
But if Rupert wants to get serious about the future and intimations of portality, he might want to check out the new tagging universe at infoworld, a media organization that is powering forward with compelling content and new ways of working and thinking. At the heart of the smart is Jon Udell. I don’t think there is anyone smarter in this business intersection and boy can he hack.
The biggest problem for News Corporation may be Long Tail competition. The company’s approach is avowedly mainstream, which often means pandering to lowest common denominators, and certainly means building mass markets. In the TivoSkypoGoogleosphere sphere though, views tend to be fractured, diverse, legion. Perhaps i am mistaken but i feel the future will be about diversity. It will be about lots and lots and lots of niches. It will be about the nouveau niche (via Doc, his stuff rocks of course, even if i do have to drive over a bump in the road to get it).
Or maybe i am just a snob-anyone that doubts News Corp’s infuence and ability to create a buzz needs their heads examining. I am about to go home and watch the big game… on SkyTV, another Murdoch property, one which I handsomely for…
In truth this post is really about Jon Udell. He is the future happening now; we should all keep watching.