Paid-for online news debate hots up

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

While the debate over the funding of news online has never really gone away, movements by big players in recent times has raised the profile on the discussion once again.

Rupert Murdoch has recently announced plans to charge people for access to the Wall Street Journal through their mobile phones and the newspaper is already behind a “pay-wall” online. Murdoch is also committed to putting all of its newspapers, including its British ones, behind a similar pay-wall by the end of next year and has tried to create a consensus amongst publishers to ensure it is a cross-industry move.

However Google’s Eric Schmidt has since come out to say that he did not think pay-walls worked for general news content because there were so many free alternatives for people to turn to instead. He said niche publications, like the Wall Street Journal are the only things that can really afford to charge as their content is not as readily available elsewhere.

Google has come under criticism from news organisations for their relaying of content via the Google News service. Publishers argue that Google is gaining from advertising in the service but the newspapers are not getting any of that in return. The search company has recently launched Google Fast Flip which allows people to virtually flick through news stories like they would in a magazine; some believe this is Google’s attempt to make online news profitable without an upfront payment involved.

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