This story was written by Patrick Smith.
Not content with its position as the only UK newspaper to successfully monetise its online content to at least some of its audience, executives from Financial Times have been busy telling the world that charging for news does work and that it’s a big mistake for other newspapers to think otherwise. Editor Lionel Barber (pictured) tells Channel 4 in an interview (embedded after the jump) that there is now “an inexorable momentum behind charging for content” and he urges other national papers only considering introducing paywalls—essentially all of them—to act now: “What I would say to the competition and to the rest of the world is that its getting late. If we move now we can assure ourselves of a prosperous future.”
He continues: “The biggest mistake the news industry made came around ten years ago when we were seduced into believing that information was free… We should have said ‘no: information has a price, it’s valuable and therefore it should be charged for.” Unlike his fellow editors and news execs, Barber doesn’t blame Google (NSDQ: GOOG) or the BBC for newspapers’ woes—he’s more regretful that newspapers, including the FT, haven’t figured out how to charge earlier on.
—Ridding talks: Meanwhile Barber’s boss, FT CEO John Ridding, was busy telling Guardian.co.uk’s resident press blogger Roy Greenslade that the FT now makes one fifth of its profits from its website, compared to 17 percent in 2007. Greenslade reports, citing sources, that the FT itself made a profit. Ridding doesn’t confirm that but he joined with Barber in going easy on the Big G: “I don’t think all the media industry’s woes should be laid at Google’s door… (That) concern does show media’s over-reliance on advertising.”
—FT bookmarks: Ramping up its incentives for paying subscribers, the FT today announces its own online bookmarking system, clippings.ft.com. All registered users can keep an online library of stories and share them—but only paying subscribers can add non-FT content.
By Patrick Smith