Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

German press crunch time could imperil democracy

By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

This autumn is proving to be particularly grim for the German press. DAPD, the country’s second-largest news agency went into administration in early October. The Frankfurter Rundschau, the oldest national paper in Germany, followed suit last week. On Thursday, Gruner + Jahr (G+J), Europe’s largest printing and publishing house, will probably pull the plug on Financial Times Deutschland (FTD).

FTD was founded in 2000 as a joint venture of G+J and Pearson, the owner of the British Financial Times. The FTD quickly gained a reputation for outstanding journalism but has lost 250 million euros over its 12-year life. Pearson gave up in 2008, selling its stake to G+J. As a newcomer, FTD has special problems, but newspaper owners everywhere are increasingly losing patience with their stricken products.

Some problems are self-inflicted. Smug owners failed to invest cleverly enough in the online business and did not try hard enough to nurture quality journalism. But the hard truth is that the traditional advertising-dependent newspaper business model, first developed by the French La Presse in 1836, no longer works.

from Breakingviews:

FT sale would defy today’s financial times

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A sale of the FT would surely defy the financial times the newspaper documents. The impending departure of Marjorie Scardino as chief executive of Pearson, parent company of the Financial Times, makes a change of ownership more likely. Her replacement said on Wednesday the publication is a “highly valued” asset. But the paper’s status could make it more valuable to someone else.

from Breakingviews:

Scardino exit reignites FT sale speculation

By Hugo Dixon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Marjorie Scardino once famously said she would sell the Financial Times “over my dead body”. Her exit as chief executive of Pearson after 16 years in charge will reignite speculation that the pink paper might be up for grabs. Scardino’s successor, John Fallon, has been at the group for 15 years, and Chairman Glen Moreno is also fond of the FT. So this is no revolution. Still, post-Scardino, Pearson will be less attached to the barely profitable newspaper.

from MediaFile:

Tech wrap: Is the DoJ right to oppose the AT&T, T-Mobile deal?

The Justice Department sued to block AT&T's $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA because eliminating T-Mobile as a competitor would be disastrous for consumers and would raise prices, particularly because the smaller provider offers low prices, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit is a serious attempt to halt a "fundamentally flawed" deal, not a tactic to wring out-sized concessions from AT&T, a source familiar with the lawsuit said.

Dan Frommer says blocking the deal won't help make service quality any better. A merger would create more spectrum to offer better, faster, more reliable service, Frommer writes. Also, its shortsighted to look at today’s pricing and market and use them as strict guides for the future, as voice and SMS service are disrupted by Internet technology, and as carriers try to charge more for 4G LTE access than they did for 3G access, Frommer added.

from MediaFile:

A new-found app-etite for the web

A funny thing happened on the way to the Apple Store ... Apps were supposed to be the salvation for publishers when the iPad morphed from unicorn status to the real thing last April. Plenty of publishers -- newspapers, magazines and books -- have built apps. Apple's newest rules on subscriptions are placating many more.

But there is already a bit of a backlash, and a new awareness that the world wide (open) web may compare favorably to the walled gardens available on the iPad and other tablets.

Why are publishers already starting to re-think the future of media again? For one thing, there is that kickback to Apple —30% off the top — for selling through the iTunes store. Then there are those rules that seem to favor the functionality of Apple apps, like in-app purchasing. And, most ironically, there is the "Aha!" moment that the iPad itself has provided by highlighting what the optimized, mobile web can really be like.

from MediaFile:

FT hearts tablets so much, it’s spreading the joy among staff

SINGAPORE/It's not hard to see why newspaper companies, saddled with plunging circulation and big iron presses , are so ecstatic over tablet devices. They bring a form of hope that hasn't crossed this industry's path since newspapers dominated classified advertising in the 1980s and 1990s making them fat with revenue and profits. Tablet computers, like Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab, just might spark renewed interest in wilted newspapers among consumers and help ease the legacy costs of paper and ink.

Consider News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch who has often expressed his love for the iPad and is busy building a team to produce a tablet-only newspaper The Daily.

from The Great Debate UK:

Resilience in the luxury market amid downturn

Ben Hughes- Ben Hughes is deputy CEO and global commercial director at the Financial Times. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Last month Italian luxury fashion house Fendi unveiled a handbag made of python leather and dipped in 24-carat gold. Price? A cool $36,000.

from MediaFile:

New York Times: Honest work means honest pay

Some people hate The New York Times and some people love The New York Times -- but everybody wants to read The New York Times for free. That will largely end in 2011. You probably read that today on the Internet, and you probably read it for free.

The Times said it will let you read some articles per month for free, then make you pay for more. It's what the Financial Times does. Who said it had to be original? If you subscribe to the print edition, just keep reading it. This isn't really about you. This is a decision that will, for better or for worse, inform the public that if you want journalists to tell you stuff or entertain you, you need to pay them to do journalism all day long.

from MediaFile:

Rupert Murdoch, the smartest man in newspapers?

I wrote an analysis on Monday about the possibility that News Corp might take its news search results away from Google and list them on Microsoft's Bing search engine instead. My conclusion: This one isn't such a hot idea. Then I read John Gapper's Financial Times item about how it *could* be a hot idea.

To recap, here's how it would work.

    Microsoft would pay News Corp for the privilege of being the only search engine to carry results from papers including the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and Times of London. Microsoft thinks it can get more people to use its search engine, drawing them away from Google. News Corp could punish Google, in essence, for making tons of money from the ads it serves alongside news search results. Why, the thinking goes, should Google make a bunch of money off the news that we produce and our newsrooms go starving and our ad sales tank? Other newspaper publishers, if they see Murdoch making it work, might think the same thing and abandon Google en masse.

I and many others wrote that it would be a gamble at best. What if people don't care that much about news? If the 70 percent of the search market that uses Google discovers  the news is absent, will they switch search engines? Scientists of misanthropy like me say it's unlikely. If they don't find it, they won't seek it.