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Murdoch's decision to charge for content will be the making of the blogosphere

Rupert Murdoch has saved Fleet Street before and he’s now on a mission to save it again. In the 1980s he rescued newspapers from the suffocating influence of the old print union barons. His plan to introduce micro-charging for online content is his high-risk attempt to ensure that newspapers prosper in the internet age.

I honestly hope he succeeds. The Murdoch empire has been an important bulwark against the BBC. Within Britain it has been good for Euroscepticism, good for sport and good for the war on terror. If he persuades other big newspapers to join him in micro-charging for content (and he is in discussion with the Washington Post and New York Times in America to that end) but also insofar as he creates a micro-payments system which can be used by others, Murdoch may succeed.

But if I wish Rupert Murdoch well I also believe that his initiative presents new media like this website with enormous opportunities.

Click on image to enlarge it (and feel free to reproduce)

BehindPayWall ConservativeHome does not need to charge for content (one reason is here) and there are many other bloggers out there who, for a huge combination of reasons, are able to offer free content and, because of their expertise, are as good-to-read as most mainstream journalists. [I wrote a seven point defence of political blogging a couple of weeks ago]. The trouble for the busy punter is that there is much more rubbish out there than intelligent writing. There is a big gap in the market for someone to create something that looks like a British newspaper but the content is provided by bloggers rather than conventionally-paid journalists.  It would bring together the best online journalism – whether political, economic, religious, environmental.  I recently purchased when I was thinking about Murdoch’s plans.

Whatever I do or don’t do with I’m keen to ensure ConHome continues to grow in this environment.  Traffic in August was 37% higher than in August 2008 and when content starts to disappear behind payment walls our frontpage aggregation service should become more useful – particularly if it becomes more of a summary and less of a links service.

It would be very helpful if you would take two minutes to complete this brief survey. It will help Jonathan Isaby, Stephan Shakespeare and I plan next steps for ConservativeHome.

Tim Montgomerie


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