News from Denmark, down with paywalls and in Steve we trust…
Just back from f-f-freezing Copenhagen, where I had a very interesting few hours in the offices of Politiken, Denmark’s Guardian-ish left of centre daily. These (very nice) people seem happy with the results of their strategy, in place since 2006, of developing their newspaper and website in parallel but separate ways. So if you go to politiken.dk (don’t be scared off by the in your face design – that’s the way they like it in the Nordic countries), you’ll find different content, arranged differently from the newspaper.
If you want an exact replica of their paper, you’ll have to buy their e-reader version. The site cherrypicks the bits from the paper it thinks most suitable for online, but may decide not to publish them for a day or so – whatever’s best for the web. Plus there’s lots of unique, online-only content, including plenty of TV. Would it work here? Hard to know exactly, but it seems more interesting to me than the rather sterile paywall vs free debate ongoing in the English=speaking world. That debate has been given some impetus by the New York Times’s announcement last week of its plans to charge users from next year on a (horrible word) ‘freemium’ basis, where you get to see a few articles for nothing over the course of a month, but if you exceed your limit then you have to pay.
Yesterday’s counterblast by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger against the mooted move to charging is the first detailed rebuttal by the editor of a major newspaper against paywalls. Rusbridger is an eloquent advocate of the position that traditional media should embrace the internet in all its glorious, disruptive, data-rich anarchy, rather than entombing itself behind walls. But, as plenty of critics have already pointed out, Guardian Media Group is currently losing £100,000 a day, which isn’t a great advertisement for the Brave New World.
Meanwhile, at times like these, there’s always a demand for a Messiah, and who better than Mr Steve Jobs. The New York Times (yes, them again) reports newspapers are hoping Apple’s new iThingummy, due for launch at 6pm tomorrow Irish time,, will save us all:
‘People who have seen the tablet say Apple will market it not just as a way to read news, books and other material, but also a way for companies to charge for all that content.’
After all, he saved the music industry, didn’t he? Oh, right…