Will the Irish Times ever learn?

Back in September the New York Times went from a subscription model to free for almost all of its content. The thinking being that the ad revenue from the extra pageviews would be greater than the loss in subs.

The Wall Street Journal has now gone the free route too. According to this Associated Press story, Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch said:

We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million (subscribers), having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth

The article went on to state that:

Murdoch said he believes that a free model, with increased readership for wsj.com, will attract “large numbers” of big-spending advertisers.

When the New York Times went free I asked, how long before the Irish Times realises the folly of its paywall? When hell freezes over seemed to be the consensus! Now with the Wall Street Journal also going free, why would anyone pay for online news? And when will the Irish Times realise the folly of its paywall? The longer they have it in place, the less relevant they (and their writers) become.

UPDATE: – The New York Times online readership has soared since they stopped charging for access (no surprise there) according to numbers released today by neilsen.

4 thoughts on “Will the Irish Times ever learn?”

  1. That is the problem with the large Irish media companies. Almost EVERYTHING online goes through the US first and we’re failing to see them as guinea pigs.

  2. You know I used to think the same. But a close look at the content of the Irish Times will reveal that much of it is not original. Lots brought in from the Guardian, or Reuters, or the FT or elsewhere. Practically all of the Premiership coverage for example, is all from the Guardian so you can already get that online. And if you want purely local news, well, RTE does a better job of getting it out there. So to my mind, the Irish Times is quickly making itself irrelevant. The one significant play that they made online that comes to mind was into the property space. I do wonder if they would make the same decision today.

  3. I agree Tom. The work-based subscription I have been using this last 18 months has just expired. Instead of asking here why the sub has not been renewed, I’ve moved to other newspapers that do allow free access.

  4. Tom, you knew I wouldn’t be able to let this one past 😉

    OK. Liam. “a close look at the content of the Irish Times will reveal that much of it is not original. Lots brought in from the Guardian, or Reuters, or the FT or elsewhere”. Yes, we use wire copy, just like the Guardian does itself and every other paper in the world. I would argue that we use far less than most other Irish papers – we just mark it clearly. For instance the Indo’s premiership coverage is all from the London Independent.

    We produce huge amounts of local content that, in my opinion, is far better than that in any other Irish media outlet? Does any other paper in the country invest the same amount on coverage of the Dail? How about our business coverage?

    Tom: “The longer they have it in place, the less relevant they (and their writers) become.” It’s all down to economics at the end of the day. Currently the paper is still the priority because that is how the majority in Ireland still get their news. However it is well known that there is a major integration project on in the paper which will create the first combined print/digital newsroom in the country to my knowledge.

    Regarding the paywall, the issue for the Times is that with so many paying subscribers how do you move to a free model without alienating them.

    All I’ll say is watch this space in 2008.

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