are at a time when many news enterprises are
shutting down or scaling back. No doubt you will
hear some tell you that journalism is in dire
shape, and the triumph of digital is to blame.
My message is
just the opposite. The future of journalism is
more promising than everlimited only by
editors and producers unwilling to fight for
their readers and viewers, or government using
its heavy hand either to overregulate or
beginning, newspapers have prospered for one
reason: the trust that comes from representing
their readers' interests and giving them the news
that's important to them. That means covering the
communities where they live, exposing government
or business corruption, and standing up to the
rich and powerful.
allows us to do this on a much greater scale.
That means we have the means to reach billions of
people who until now have had no honest or
independent sources of the information they need
to rise in society, hold their governments
accountable, and pursue their needs and dreams.
Does this mean
we are all going to succeed? Of course not. Some
newspapers and news organizations will not adapt
to the digital realities of our dayand they
will fail. We should not blame technology for
these failures. The future of journalism belongs
to the bold, and the companies that prosper will
be those that find new and better ways to meet
the needs of their viewers, listeners, and
companies need to give people the news they want.
I can't tell you how many papers I have visited
where they have a wall of journalism prizesand
a rapidly declining circulation. This tells me
the editors are producing news for themselvesinstead
of news that is relevant to their customers. A
news organization's most important asset is the
trust it has with its readers, a bond that
reflects the readers' confidence that editors are
looking out for their needs and interests.
At News Corp.,
we have been working for two years on a project
that would use a portion of our broadcast
spectrum to bring our TV offeringsand maybe
even our newspaper contentto mobile
devices. Today's news consumers do not want to be
chained to a box in their homes or offices to get
their favorite news and entertainmentand
our plan includes the needs of the next wave of
TV viewing by going mobile.
The same is true
with newspapers. More and more, our readers are
using different technologies to access our papers
during different parts of the day. For example,
they might read some of their Wall Street Journal
on their BlackBerries while commuting into the
office, read it on the computer when they arrive,
and read it on a larger and clearer e-reader
wherever they may be.
My second point
follows from my first: Quality content is not
free. In the future, good journalism will depend
on the ability of a news organization to attract
customers by providing news and information they
are willing to pay for.
The old business
model based mainly on advertising is dead. Let's
face it: A business model that relies primarily
on online advertising cannot sustain newspapers
over the long term. The reason is simple
arithmetic. Though online advertising is
increasing, that increase is only a fraction of
what is being lost with print advertising.
That's not going
to change, even in a boom. The reason is that the
old model was founded on quasimonopolies such as
classified advertising, which has been decimated
by new and cheaper competitors such as
Craigslist, Monster.com, and so on.
In the new
business model, we will be charging consumers for
the news we provide on our Internet sites. The
critics say people won't pay. I believe they
will, but only if we give them something of good
and useful value. Our customers are smart enough
to know that you don't get something for nothing.
That goes for
some of our friends online too. And yet there are
those who think they have a right to take our
news content and use it for their own purposes
without contributing a penny to its production.
Some rewrite, at times without attribution, the
news stories of expensive and distinguished
journalists who invested days, weeks or even
months in their storiesall under the
tattered veil of "fair use."
These people are
not investing in journalism. They are feeding off
the hard-earned efforts and investments of
others. And their almost wholesale
misappropriation of our stories is not "fair
use." To be impolite, it's theft.
content creators bear all the costs, while
aggregators enjoy many of the benefits. In the
long term, this is untenable. We are open to
different pay models. But the principle is clear:
To paraphrase a famous economist, there's no such
thing as a free news story, and we are going to
ensure that we get a fair but modest price for
the value we provide.
Finally, a few
words about government. In the last two or three
decades, we have seen the emergence of new
platforms and opportunities that no one could
have predictedfrom social networking sites
and iPhones and BlackBerries, to Internet sites
for newspapers, radio and television. And we are
only at the beginning.
has a role here. Unfortunately, too many of the
mechanisms government uses to regulate the news
and information business in this new century are
based on 20th-century assumptions and business
models. If we are really concerned about the
survival of newspapers and other journalistic
enterprises, the best thing government can do is
to get rid of the arbitrary and contradictory
regulations that actually prevent people from
investing in these businesses.
One example of
outdated thinking is the FCC's cross-ownership
rule that prevents people from owning, say, a
television station and a newspaper in the same
market. Many of these rules were written when
competition was limited because of the huge
up-front costs. If you are a newspaper today,
your competition is not necessarily the TV
station in the same city. It can be a Web site on
the other side of the world, or even an icon on
someone's cell phone.
developments mean increased competition, and that
is good for consumers. But just as businesses are
adapting to new realities, the government needs
to adapt too. In this new and more globally
competitive news world, restricting
cross-ownership between television and newspapers
makes as little sense as would banning newspapers
from having Web sites.
In my view, the
growing drumbeat for government assistance for
newspapers is as alarming as overregulation. One
idea gaining in popularity is providing taxpayer
funds for journalists. Or giving newspapers
"nonprofit" statusin exchange, of
course, for papers giving up their right to
endorse political candidates. The most damning
problem with government "help" is what
we saw with the bailout of the U.S. auto
industry: Help props up those who are producing
things that customers do not want.
The prospect of
the U.S. government becoming directly involved in
commercial journalism ought to be chilling for
anyone who cares about freedom of speech. The
Founding Fathers knew that the key to
independence was to allow enterprises to prosper
and serve as a counterweight to government power.
It is precisely because newspapers make profits
and do not depend on the government for their
livelihood that they have the resources and
wherewithal to hold the government accountable.
representatives of 13 former British colonies
established a new order for the ages, they built
it on a sturdy foundation: a free and informed
citizenry. They understood that an informed
citizenry requires news that is independent from
government. That is one reason they put the First
Our modern world
is faster moving and far more complex than
theirs. But the basic truth remains: To make
informed decisions, free men and women require
honest and reliable news about events affecting
their countries and their lives. Whether the
newspaper of the future is delivered with
electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that
important. What is most important is that the
news industry remains free, independentand
Rupert Murdoch es
presidente de News Corp. Esta es
una adaptación de su discurso en la reunión
sobre periodismo e internet convocada en
Washington por la Federal Trade Commission el
pasado 1 de diciembre de 2009.