Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has finally answered the question we all have posed this year: when and where will we have to start paying for online news? “Next summer,” he finally told the Guardian today.
Speculation has been rife on whether charging for online content would be the final solution for newspapers who are struggling to survive. Writing in the June issue of Prospect, Damian Tambini warned that the idea is part of a general shift in the way we are able to access the internet. “It will limit both competition and citizens’ ability to access freely the internet’s treasure trove,” he wrote, adding: “Openness doesn’t just guarantee free speech, it also partly explains recent unprecedented levels of innovation.”
However, it remains to be seen whether Murdoch’s wheeze is workable. Can newspapers take back what readers have become used to consuming for free? Murdoch has said that Newscorp will start charging for news from both the broadsheets and tabloids such as the Sun, celebrity news being of special interest. “When we have a celebrity scoop, the number of hits we get now are astronomical,” he told Guardian. But whether readers will think it’s actually worth shelling out for such scoops when they can now pick up several freesheets full of gossip daily is another question all together.