In Thursday meander through the blogging world, I mentioned News Ltd's plans to introduce pay for view to the Australian. The links I gave in that post will provide further information to those interested. Since then, the Australian has launched its new web site, with digital subscription launching 24 October.
As I noted in my post, my immediate interest lay in its likely impact on blogging and on my blogging in particular.
On first impression, I don't like the new web site. I am a fast reader and indeed rely on that speed. I used to be able to quick scan the site, whereas the new site slows me down. In fairness, once you dig inside it gets better, but I still don't think that it's brilliant.
Something of the same issue comes up with the new mobile and magazine formats within blogging. I don't like them because they slow me down.
However, my big problem is the expected one: what content will be free in circumstances where the "premium" content line can shift? I try to be punctilious in not copying in full and in providing links, but there is not much point in all that if readers cannot then access the material.
I use the Australian a fair bit because its reporting is strong in certain areas. The other main metropolitan daily I read on a regular basis is the Sydney Morning Herald. This, too, is going into a subscription mode, with an iPad app already under trial.
In a comment on Belshaw's World - caught between a tweet and a print place, the Armidale Express's Janene Carey wondered if some bundling of SMH and Express might not meet my needs for certain types of content. That comment raised a new issue in my mind.
I read a lot of media online and for different reasons. I scan media from other countries to try to get a broader perspective. I scan the major Australian media outlets for national or state material. I also scan newspapers across New England to try to provide a broader New England perspective. I use the media as a source of leads, often following through to get the original source material. I am interested in reporting as reporting.
While my writing reflects my own idiosyncratic interests, while I do not pretend to be a reporter as such, I do try to add a measure of value through my analysis, consolidations and commentary. Access to a diversity or reporting is central to that. This becomes more difficult in a world of pay. I could not afford, for example, to take out a subscription to every newspaper in New England, let alone all the other outlets I look at.
The world will not end tomorrow, but the trend and consequent problems are clear.
Still musing, another problem from my perspective is the proliferation of delivery mechanisms and outlets and the way they affect writing and reading. I mentioned that I didn't like the new mobile and magazine formats within blogging because they slowed my reading down.
The hardware plus delivery systems that can be used to access material continue to proliferate. Take a train trip in Sydney during peak hour and just watch. You will see half a dozen different pieces of hardware in use, each with its particular characteristics. At a personal level I am quite out of touch. I have chosen consciously not to attempt to understand them all, nor to tailor my writing to suit them. It's just too hard!
This is starting to take me in new directions and I have other things to do today. Time to stop.