I should be writing about Google and China , but I am too angry . Through sadness , despair and incomprehension I emerge on the dark shores of irrational anger with the Man and his doltish acolytes who have sentenced to stagnant death the oldest and at times the greatest of Britain’s serious newspapers . Between now and the offer of the Lebvedev Pound is only a long or short period of decay . At Times Newspapers a total bankrupcy of strategic imagination leaves the once great Thunderer anaesthetized and awaiting only dementia and demise .
This may sound over dramatic , but the arrival of the £1 per day /£2 per week pay wall at the Times needs to be seen this way , or as some sort of outlandish joke . The problem facing the Times was about recreating its relationships with eitherits advertisers or with its readers . There is no strategic reason for the paywall : it is simply the expression of tired managerial brains , cudgelled by a demanding owner , saying ridiculous things like ” Well , we put so much effort into it that we should be able to get a £1 for it …” or , even worse , ” People don’t recognize our value so we must make them pay for it …”
There is great value in the Times , even if too much of its news reporting is agency rewrites . There is value in its journal of record status , in its commentators and in its editorial position , when that does not refect its owner’s desire to play political kingmaker . Under Murdoch it is far reduced from even its Thomson days . Its brand still has power and value . What was needed was the skill and insight to stop and start again. What is the user relationship online ? What value add features , branded by the Times but searching the entire web through a Times-created focus , are valuable enough to become desktop attributes , a way of organizing and personalizing the news for the fixed , or seperately , for mobile markets ?What rich subcommunities does the Times have around its citeable Law Reports , or its obituaries , or its classifieds , that could become a platform for user exchange within the Times brand ? While Times Online has done some good and innovative things over the past five years , none of them got a look in at the end . Instead we got the crass decision : it is a newspaper in the real world , and being no different on the Web , we charge £1 for it
I learn from Jeff Jarvis and Michael Wolff in various quotations that Rupert Murdoch does not use the Internet , but that he has recently started to use email . This may explain the stumbling , stubborn road to ruin on the Web . My Space was bad enough:there was an opportunity to innovate and stay in front . Arguably Facebook should never have made it if Murdoch’s men had not thought that buying market share was enough ,and had realized instead that buying market share just gives you an opportunity to tune and develop service attributes from the front of the market , not the back . .
Now News is ailing . They provide casebook examples of how difficult it is for real world media executives , even if they are His Children and Trusted Cronies , to make network publishing decisions without any network publishing experience . With advertizing markets down , growth in satellite curtailed by regulators and the Chinese government , and Fox becoming a politicized space that does not appeal to all communities and advertizers , it is possible to imagine the rise and fall of this media Imperium within the single generation of a remarkable dealmaker who never really understood the media he owned . None of which quite quenches my anger about the Times . .keep looking »