Monday, 21 December 2009

In support of the Ocker..........

In 1969 a brash Aussie took over The Sun newspaper and changed the face of British journalism, for good or ill.
This "Dirty Digger" was derided and scorned by media pundits and the Establishment and his paper branded a "shit sheet" and a "six month wonder".
Rupert Murdoch now faces similar derision and naysaying from the pundits, self-styled"experts" and Establishment figures for his decision to set up a paywall for his online products.
"It won't work, " they bleat. "No-one will put up with it," they cry. "Everything on the Internet should be free," they wail.
Well I say fuck them, I hope Murdoch succeeds, not least for the fact it will secure jobs in journalism for a long, long time.
After all, if our websites really can make as much money as our paper products they will have to be treated far more seriously than the one-man-band operations many of the big "web is the future" corporations are running now.
If anyone can do it Murdoch can and, if he does, you can guarantee all of the whiney bitches who are knocking him now will jump right on board.
My concern is how to get Joe Punter to stick his hand in his pocket every time he wants to view a story or indeed pay a subscription to one or more newspaper sites.
I like the idea of micro payments. How about one pence an article?
It appears to be small beer at first but on a concerted web search session you can soon rack up the cash.
Twenty articles a day and you have hit the cover price of the Sun.
Or double it, treble it even and you are still only talking about three pence a click.
Offer a daily unlimited access for a discounted paper cover price to reflect the lack of printing, paper and distribution costs on the web.
Monthly and yearly subscriptions offering archive search, exclusive offers and articles can be available at even heavier discounts.
Grouped products, ie all News Ints libraries globally, available at seriously low prices. Lexis Nexis charges a fortune for its newspaper cuttings service and gets hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility to create a similar system for much less cash
The real problem comes with the copying of articles onto other web-sites, blogs, forums etc.
I think this has to be tackled head on with an extremely aggressive team of lawyers stamping down hard on plagiarism and cut and paste merchants. The cost initially would be large and, yes, there would always be those "freedom fighters" out there determined to buck the trend but overall it could have an effect. Super injunctions, anyone?
Google alerts and other links go straight to the site and a charge is made per link, with some of that fee going to the original forwarding site.
Internet geeks will have a whale of a time with this "censorship" but ultimately news costs cash to produce.
If all you want on the web is a bunch of navel gazers commenting on comments that other commentators have made then carry on arguing about paying for your news feed.
Without cash we journalists stop doing what we do because we get fired.
Forget the rather ridiculous notion of citizen journalism taking over because it is a fallacy to believe your average punter would bother to do what we do on a daily basis for shag all.
There are some great hobbyists out there but the majority write libellous, biased chod or shit about what they did on their holidays.
And tell me those hobbyists wouldn't love to start making some cash for what they do.
I think the single biggest obstacle facing pay walls is not an unwillingness to pay for news but it's the method of payment.
If you could click on a link to a story that automatically debited your bank or online account by one pence, would you really umm and aah about the cost. Probably not.
But you can guarantee you will not pull out your credit card and type in your number, address and other details in order to read about the latest upset in Emmerdale.
If the newspaper organisations can put aside their differences and create a universal payment system that allows one click debiting from an online cash account (something like Paypal would not be too far off the mark) with free vouchers offering significant initial funds to use those accounts, I think the plan to charge could just work.
After all if senior management had seriously thought about paywalls before deciding to give away the farm online in the first place would we really be having this discussion?

To those incapable of snow driving.....grrrrrrr*

If you feel not confident or incapable of driving in the snow please leave your fucking cars at home during a snow storm you utter, utter wankers.
Three hours to drive a journey that takes me half an hour on a bad day because some tossers shit themselves at a few flakes on the road.
Yes, it's a bit slippy and yes, you will skid and wheelspin a little but that does not give you the excuse of stopping every five metres while driving up a hill.
Your shit driving is causing this traffic chaos and if I was driving a company car I would have shunted you off the road by now.
Keep moving, use a higher gear and treat it like bad rainfall or better yet use public transport you total bastards.

*This is not strictly about journalism but it is a story on our website so I am entitled to unleash a little.