I don’t know when this was broadcast, but Rupert Murdoch was interviewed by Fox on his plans for the Wall Street Journal. He wants to do away with the paid subscription base, rationalising that if it can get 20 million people reading and visiting (as opposed to 1m paying now) the advertising revenue will be worth the transition.
However, at the end of the clip he’s asked about newspapers, specifically about how to get young people reading them. His answer interests me.
That’s our challenge. We’re all working at that, how do we get young people back reading, enjoying newspapers. And one of the ways I think is to make newspapers better, more accessible and more exciting.
The key part for me is enjoying. It seems obvious, but is often overlooked by newspapers all over the world. You can have plenty of worthy copy and material, but if it’s not presented in a way that entices the reader it’s pointless. Murdoch’s empire has been built by tapping into what people want — be it downmarket sex and scandal in The Sun, or an upmarket paper of record approach a la The Times. The readers enjoy these papers because they speak to them.
Whether or not Murdoch — or anybody else for that matter — can get the current generation reading papers again remains to be seen. The online potential for the industry is clear and improved technology (think the live update newspaper from Minority Report) could also prove a shot in the arm, transforming the media industry.
And while you’re at it, have a look at my editor-to-be showing off the under-construction newsroom in Abu Dhabi. He also spoke to Sky about the project:
“A country which is going gangbusters on development, the economy and healthcare institutions, next turns its attention to its media”, [he said] in a boardroom at the HQ of Emirates Media Inc.
“Media is booming, but not as we understand it in the UK.”
Newland recalls a recent golden age for newspapers in Britain at the end of the dot com boom, and compares it to the current situation in UAE.
“It’s exploding,” he tells me, “here is one of the last few areas in the world where you can launch a newspaper and still get away with it.”
I’m looking forward to it.