Friday 20 September 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: What is the cost of good content?

Jim Edwards, it seems you were right.

Just one month on from the “The Sun” controversially hiding its online content behind a paywall the statistics have shown that whilst the Red Top may have been enjoying greater revenues, they have paid for it with deteriorating audience numbers.

The latest report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (released yesterday) reveals that since the Sun introduced its pay wall, its numbers have dropped by as much as 60%.

And it doesn’t seem that this disgruntled 60% simply stopped consuming their rouge-news after August 1st… They simply tapped a different URL into their internet search engines and surfed off elsewhere. For example, last month enjoyed a boost of nearly 20% of daily browsers in the wake of the Sun’s pay wall crashing down.

There was a great deal of controversy when the Times implemented its “hard paywall” back in 2010. As Edwards has predicted for the Sun, The Times did suffer from depressed readership and became the least-read “quality” newspaper in the UK. However its paywall introduction wasn’t a total failure; they managed to accrue over 100,000 paying visitors and are still successfully operating from behind this subscription line. Three years into its pay wall era, CEO Mike Darcey says that although their reach was reduced, their number of “meaningful readers” has been maintained.

But should the Sun and the Times be punished for wanting to charge readers to their content?

With the new revenue produced from paywalls, news publishers can afford to spend more on their staff, resources and technology, thus producing even better content. In an age where print is dying and citizen journalism is under-mining the power and resources of accredited journalists, should we not be supporting our news publishers?

Do we, the ever demanding news-starved rabble, deserve free web-content that in years gone by we would have had to pay for in hard copy?

And where does this leave the world of corporation communications? Do we steer clear of feeding reports at paywalled publications simply because we see their numbers dwindling, or do we continue to provide them with stories, information and interviews that would help keep their (now costly) content engaging, useful and (above all) informative?

Perhaps the simplest solution would be for all news sites to operate from behind a pay wall. This would then remove the inorganic competitive edge and would ensure that all publications could be free to charge their users and thus re-invest back into producing good content and accurate reportage.

For now, however, perhaps the public should just take the bitter pill and pay for their news. The Sun shouldn’t be embarrassed by its resultant dwindling figures (it has since withdrawn itself from the ABC web traffic audit) and we should all accept that in this life you don’t get anything for free…

A busy week for all, attending some great events including Smith & Williamson’s wonderful Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2013 with guest speaker Rt Hon Michael Portillo; Stephenson Harwood’s corporate finance team’s annual party, hosted by John Inverdale and Warren Gatland; and ‘A Late Night @ Bird & Bird’. We also hosted two market lunches, the Corporate and Financial Group Committee meeting and a day of clay shooting for our Northern region contacts.

As well as welcoming another new graduate, Abchaps also attended the Global Mining Finance Autumn Conference, a CIPR seminar on Social Media as Market Maker, and entertained some guests at the Chelsea vs Basel Champions League match…. Quite a week!

Law firms Brown Rudnick announced the appointment of new corporate partner Sophie McGrath, who joins from Morrison & Foerster, whilst Pinsent Masons appointed Peter Rosher, formerly of Clifford Chance, as partner in the Paris construction arbitration team. Accountancy firm Crowe Clark Whitehill appointed Andrew Manning from Deloitte as partner in their not for profit team.

'Tabloid': a newspaper with a compact page size smaller than a broadsheet. Commonly now it is popular to reflect a populist style of journalism and reporting.

Enjoy street food and live music tomorrow night at The Urban Food Fest on Shoreditch High, running every Saturday night for the next month.

If you can get to Camden Town for the iTunes festival this weekend, you’ll see Primal Scream, HAIM and Ellie Goulding.

Head down to Firth Street to see the latest in design from around the world at London Design Festival.

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

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