Murdoch : a lone voice of reason

It’s a simple fact that national flags restricted to two colours are invariably dull or worse lame (Hello ! Canada can you hear me ?). An obvious exception is the Swiss Flag. I’m reminded of this as I watch the runway at Zurich Flughafen every time a tail fin passes the lounge window heading skywards in the opposite direction to the publishing industry.

The Financial Times is running a series on media growth strategies this week and today Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson kicks it all off in a quick but comprehensive summary today. It’s a good read and a topic which I admit to being fascinated by. How to charge for content.

One thing is for certain if Rupert Murdoch was a flag it would be multi-coloured. Some, of course, would argue it should be the Skull & Cross Bones but they would be very wrong.

Nothing works in this world unless it can be monetised. He gets that. Sure that makes him ruthless but one can argue that approach has kept titles and media vehicles alive.

Meanwhile over at Conde Nast (a white flag perhaps ?) their revenue model was based only on advertising and the most spurious of partnerships (‘Fashion Rocks’ ??!!). Rather than asking the consumer of such excellent and rich content (which includes many titles : New Yorker, Traveller, and Vanity Fair) to pay a subscription premium, they were, and still are flogged for $1 a copy.

It’s tragic. People do not value what they are not charged for. There has to be a transaction.

Murdoch recently announced he was shuttering The London Paper – one of two free evening newspapers. The other London Lite or London *hit as I knew it will surely follow. The result will be that I will start paying 50p for the Evening Standard. Because, let’s be honest, you need something to read to avoid interaction with your fellow Tube passenger – that’s just not British !

So a quick bit of math means I am personally pumping £125 into the evening news business in London whereas over the last 18 months I’ve contributed ZERO !

Enough said.

Build it and they will come so said Kevin Costner. Charge and they will pay – unless your content is poor and then you deserve to fail.

Flags, mastheads, banners, CEOs – only the colourful and confident survive.

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