November 9, 2009

Would you pay to read online news?

The long-running debate over whether internet users will pay for online news if publishers start building pay walls is getting nasty.

Rupert Murdoch has led the move towards paid for online content, with plans to erect pay walls around popular UK titles such as The Sun and Times. And he’s not pulling any punches.

In a televised interview in the US, Murdoch has threatened to ban his content from Google searches, adding that he’s happy to do this even if it means attracting fewer visitors to his sites.

If he really means it, it’s a daring and bold move to say the least, and one that has far reaching implications for the rules of engagement on the internet that goes far beyond the battle between old media and the freemium model.

For example, will you be able to continue sharing interesting news articles and features with friends on the internet, and by implication, the viral content that accompanies that content? Murdoch’s plans attack the very idea of viral itself. It’s not without accident, that The Huffington Post has become the most visited news website in the world through viral activity on the back of a vibrant Facebook group. And is a great source for News Int. titles.

You can watch the Murdoch interview and read more about it on Gordon’s Republic.

Murdoch’s determination to start making people pay for online content they currently get for free confidently assumes they won’t just go to the BBC or its overseas equivalent instead everyday, but is he right to gamble on this assumption?

Would you pay to read Jeremy Clarkson’s column on cars (which accounts for 25% of all traffic) or Gordon Smart’s Bizarre column in The Sun?

We’d like to know so we’re runnng a poll, in which you can cast your vote.