Economist puts up the wall

October 6, 2009

The Economist has put in place a pay wall for some content, the latest sign of a coming trend. But it isn’t the Great Wall; more a hedge.

“Beginning October 13th, we will be limiting access to certain sections of our site to subscribers only,” says Ben Edwards, Publisher of Economist.com. “Over the past few years, Economist.com has become a hub for intelligent discussion, with news commentary, blogs and an award-winning debate series. We will continue to encourage both subscribers and non-subscribers to participate in those conversations. We will also enhance the experience we offer our most loyal readers by expanding our subscribers-only features.”

“Currently, all content published within the last year is free of charge. Soon, this access will be limited to articles published within the last 90 days. The print edition contents page, which offers a convenient way to browse articles and features from the latest issue of The Economist, will also be limited to subscribers only.”

As PaidContent notes, “The press release calls this “experimentation with a new website pay wall”. But the magazine, which is proving especially resilient in print, is rejecting the opportunity to go entirely pay-for.”

The Guardian notes that “The Times and Sunday Times yesterday revealed plans for a readers’ club with a £50 membership fee to non-subscribers, another example of newspapers attempting to develop new revenue streams from loyal readers rather than following a high-volume strategy.”

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FEER to shut in December

September 24, 2009

A moment of genuine regret: the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) will close in December.

“Unfortunately, despite several attempts at invigorating the brand, the Review’s continued losses in advertising revenue and readers are now unsustainable,” News Corp.-owned Dow Jones said in a statement. Read the AP story here.

FEER had been much scaled down for years. Maybe the idea of reading a single publication on Asia like this was old-fashioned, colonialist, reductionist; but at its peak (its Peak?) it was one of the finest papers in the world, with some of the best journalists. I will take a gin and tonic at the FCC next time I am there to remember it (mind you, there’s no foreign correspondents in there any more).


BizWeek on the Journalism Job Market

September 20, 2009
Michael Mandel at Business Week has done some great work analysing changes in US journalism jobs. The bad news: a decline of a third in newspaper jobs in a decade. The good news: more internet jobs and twice as many information services jobs. But the net result is that this sector is shrinking. “What we have is a wipeout in newspapers, plus what looks like a combination of secular and cyclical declines in other “journalistic” industries.”

Rachel Johnson to edit The Lady

July 20, 2009

Rachel Johnson is to be the new editor of The Lady magazine. I wrote about this throwback some weeks ago (the mag, not Rachel). It is a bastion of the more conservative side of womanhood, facing some pretty challenging times as its old readership dies off and the new generation seek more than lavender, nannies and jam to fill their time.

I know the new editor pretty well, or used to0 back in the 1980s and 1990s when we briefly shared the economics room of the Financial Times. She is smart and funny, and writes a column or columns for various people of the shagging-in-W10 variety, as well as dirty books. I believe I introduced her to her husband, though that may be my imagination.

God alone knows what she will make of The Lady, or it of her.


The Lady regrets

May 28, 2009

The Lady magazine has parted company with its editor. Not so unusual for a mag to lose its ed (voluntarily or involuntarily), but this is different. The Lady has been around since 1885; the editor has been there since 1991. Several countries have been around significantly less time than that.

The magazine can best be characterised as a conservative read for the older, middle class lady. Read this fascinating piece in the FT (from some years back) for some colour. Favourite quotes:

“Because I’m editor I get two towels… Everyone else gets one. I must admit that I like having towels. It’s the only magazine I’ve worked at during my career where I’ve had a towel. And I like it. Dryers aren’t hygenic, anyway.”

“We’re the kind of magazine you can leave lying around – and if you’re having your teeth done, you don’t want to be reading about some ghastly tragedy or erotic fantasy. People like something soothing and reasonable.”

I mention these not to diss the Lady or demean it; the point is that it knew its community and audience very well, and looked after them. But as with other media, things have changed. A new publisher, new commercial pressures, new markets…

There is much gossip about the new editor. (Rowan Pelling, former editor of the Erotic Review?) Bad news about the towels, too.


What new and what’s news

May 25, 2009

 I have been away for a few weeks, moving countries, and haven’t been keeping this updated. Now I am returning and trying to get back up to speed with what happened. So far as I can see:

  1. Newsweek relaunched. Michael Kinsley hated it.
  2. The debate over paying for access to content continued, in pretty much the same way as before. The WSJ said it would start to charge for some content through micropayments.  Freemium (free content mixed with paid-for premium content) was increasingly talked of as a model.
  3. The Economist wrote about the crisis in the news industry, the WSJ did an interactive graphic.
  4. Discussions are still continuing over the future of the Boston Globe.
  5. David Geffen talked about buying the New York Times, though it sounds as if he didn’t get very far.

I live in the US now, by the way.


In Switch, Magazines Think About Raising Prices

April 13, 2009

“[N]ow, as they consider the decline in advertising and the success of magazines that have increased prices recently, some publishers are wondering whether they can raise their prices without losing subscribers.” NYT on magazines agonising over cover prices.