Technology and the Internet have both good and bad sides, whether it’s for businesses or consumers. Many opportunities have been created, such as access to global markets, cheaper and easier transport and communication and better sources of supply. But with this opportunity comes threats, especially for businesses. We’ve seen the emergence of new online-based companies and in some cases these have contributed to the demise of other firms. In this News Item we look at the impact on the newspaper industry.
Media is one industry that has been significantly affected by technological developments. Newspaper readership has been in decline for many years and this is even the case for the most widely read UK paper – The Daily Telegraph. However, according to Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, it’s not the end of the industry:
It is an industry in crisis, but I don’t accept it is an industry in terminal decline.
More and more information has become freely available online and just as we would expect in any other sector, the newspaper industry has had to respond. To keep their readers, newspapers across the world provide thousands of articles on all topics on their websites. But if news can be accessed freely, why bother purchasing a newspaper? This is the problem facing the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail etc – the number of newspapers sold has declined and thus so have revenues and profits.
One option is to charge consumers for reading the news by introducing a subscription to the online articles. The Financial Times already charges a fee to view articles online beyond a certain number and The Telegraph is soon to follow suit. Back in 2010, The Times and Sunday Times launched their new websites, which charged readers for viewing articles. The model being adopted by The Telegraph is a little different, as a certain number of articles can be viewed for free before a price must be paid. International readers are already charged to view online material, but these new charges will apply to UK readers. With so much competition facing newspapers, the number of readers for The Telegraph will undoubtedly decline, but with newspaper readership falling, revenues must come from somewhere. Tony Gallagher has said:
We want to develop a closer rapport with our digital audience in the UK, and we intend to unveil a number of compelling digital products for our loyal subscribers in the months ahead.
Differentiating the product is going to be essential for any newspaper that begins charging, as with so much information available online for free, they have to ensure they keep their readers. Establishing loyalty will be crucial. The following articles consider this change.
Telegraph extends paywall to UK readers BBC News (26/3/13)
The Telegraph: subscribe to Britain’s finest journalism The Telegraph (26/3/13)
Telegraph to put up metered paywall Guardian, Roy Greenslade (26/3/13)
The sun joins Telegraph in charging website users The Guardian, Lisa O’Carroll and Roy Greenslade (26/3/13)
Oh how Times are charging Sloman News Site March 2010
Telegraph introduces UK paywall Marketing Week, Lara O’Reilly (26/3/13)
Washington Post announces porous paywall Journalism.co.uk, Sarah Marshall (19/3/13)
Washington Post latest newspaper to put faith in paywalls The Guardian, Dominic Rushe (19/3/13)
Ireland’s newspapers suffer hard times Financial Times, Jamie Smythe (24/3/13)
Washington Post to start charging for website Wall Street Journal, Keach Hagey (18/3/13)
- Where would you put newspapers on the product life cycle? Explain your answer.
- How would you assess the effect of the development of technology and the internet for newspapers?
- Have readers of newspapers benefited from the internet?
- How might estimates of elasticity have been used to make the decision to charge to view online articles?
- Which consumers will be affected most by this new strategy?
- How might companies that don’t charge for online access benefit from this new strategy?
- Would you continue to read articles from The Times, the Financial Times, The Telegraph, etc. linked from this site if you had to pay to access them? If so, why? If not, why not?
- How much would you be prepared to pay to access online articles? How are the concepts of utility and consumer surplus relevant here?
- What effect will the paywall have on The Telegraph’s revenues and profits? Use a diagram to illustrate your answer.