Media executives (mostly) read free news

December 4, 2009

BosHere’s one of the headlines that we produced at this week’s Reuters Global Media Summit: “Media get real about paid-for Web news.” In it, we distilled media executives’ thoughts on the future of news to this: The romance with free content — stimulated by global ad spending that reached a peak of almost half a trillion dollars last year — was over.

Or… maybe it’s not over yet. Plenty of media executives, the people trying to find a way to get paid for what they produce when free stuff on the Internet makes that ever more difficult, still read free news. Not all, but some, even though they pay for some of it too. Here are some responses to the question we asked in New York and London: How do you read your news?

Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development at Google Inc (who, despite Google’s despised status among newspaper defenders, pays for some of his news):

I read my news in a combination of Twitter, Facebook, Google News and The New York Times. I get my New York Times delivered to my house.  I have it before I wake up. I scan through it. I get my newspapers in planes and whenever I have a sort of down moment, I am following CNN, the BBC, Reuters (aw, thanks!), TechCrunch and a whole lot of other relevant people at Twitter… If I have a free moment at my desk, I will go onto the Google News site to see what’s happening in the world. For some reason, I feel as informed as I used to be when I used to read two newspapers every morning.

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global:

I may not read my local paper much anymore, but I never miss reading the Journal. Primarily because I want to know what I’m missing. I’m looking at it more like a student than a consumer. I need this information — I don’t want it, I need it.

Andrew Barron, chief operating officer of Virgin Media:

Multiple sources: Internet, Blackberry… the Financial Times, The Times of London and the Daily Mail. He gets home delivery, but doesn’t read the papers until evening.

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League:

I start in the morning, first thing, like somebody in their mid 50s, by going through traditional newspapers. And then I go from there to online. Obviously because of the nature of our business, I get news flashes instantaneously through my Blackberry.

Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of Epix:

I have to admit, I still watch the evening news. I’m sort of an old-fashioned kind of guy, a dying breed, an avid reader of the  Times and the Journal. I will admit, though, that when I travel, I take my Kindle with me, and I prefer to download it. So it’s been an interesting change for me as a person who always liked reading paper, to now all of a sudden the Kindle, which has changed how I read a newspaper.

Hilary Schneider, executive vice president of Yahoo North America (and an alumna of Knight Ridder, an extinct newspaper publisher):

I’m a mixed-media consumer of news. I start every day on Yahoo, as you would expect, to get the highlights. I am a Kindle reader so I also, when I’m traveling, keep up through the Kindle. And I am a hard-core, old-fashioned newspaper reader on the weekends or when I’m on airplanes. (What she reads: The New York Times and San Jose Mercury News). (And what about reading the Kindle on an airplane?) The airlines used to not be savvy to the fact that that was an electronic device. It’s only recently that they’re asking me to turn it off, so it’s sort of a bummer.

(Photo: Reuters)

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