There have been new developments concerning the death of free press and the future of traditional media companies. Not so long ago Rupert Murdoch, New Corps. chairman and chief executive made a series of statements noting that traditional media outlets had fallen behind the times, Murdoch Will Make Us Pay. It seems his words did not fall on deaf ears as they were repeated at the government sponsored Federal Trade Commission's workshop on December 1st, concerning challenges facing media and ways the government can help.
"We need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high-quality, reliable news and information does not come free," Murdoch said. "Good journalism is an expensive commodity."
Murdoch also went on to say that the key to survival is about giving the consumer what they want and how they want it and charging for it. This also happens to be the first rule of mass media.
It's no secret that traditional media has been hard pressed by low internet revenues and declining offline advertising, which is their main source of funding. The Chairman of the FTC, John Leibowitz said,
"We should be willing to take action if necessary to preserve the news that is vital to democracy."
There were a few proposals offered by media execs such as tax changes that would give media companies the ability to earn tax credits or even be tax exempt. Another idea is to change copyright laws that would require online aggregates to compensate media companies for their content. The FTC has not endorsed any specific idea and there are those who remain opposed to government involvement in the matter. Their reasoning is simply that those who do not evolve will not survive.
Charging for online material is a risky idea because readers can simply go to other free sources that will undoubtedly still remain. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal has done very well with charging subscription fees. With 407,000 online subscribers it surpassed USA Today as the top selling newspaper. We will keep you post as the story progresses but in the mean time, what do you think about paying online subscriptions?