Tag Archives: Financial Times

The man who tried to alert the world to the potential of hacking scandal in 1999

Interesting website from Steven Nott detailing an amazingly long battle to try and alert the media and authorities about what became phone hacking back in 1999, but to no avail.

He contacted the likes of The Sun, The Daily Mirror and ITN News and was promised stories after he had highlighted how easy it was to hack the voicemail of Vodafone phone users, but despite talking to journalists nothing was ever written. Read more on The man who tried to alert the world to the potential of hacking scandal in 1999…

FT.com considers £2 daily charge

The Financial Times is saying it might charge around £2 a day to access FT.com and is to introduce Paypal. Micropayments are still being thought about as well.

Speaking at the FT’s Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference in London John Ridding today said FT.com would begin trialling Ebay’s PayPal online payments and mentioned the £2 a day charge. That’s a very interesting figure, of course. It is what the paper costs and so the FT is drawing a clear line between its print content and its online content in terms of value (although at the moment it is still pushing that £1 trial offer).

Read more on FT.com considers £2 daily charge…

Twitter is not catching on with senior execs

Some FT research just out has revealed that Twitter hasn’t caught on with senior executives. A worldwide survey found that less than 10% of senior executives were using it for work. Really that low?

I’m surprised as that’s just one in ten using it for work with 20% using Twitter in their leisure time. Personally, I don’t really do Twitter and leisure – for me it’s all about work (is that odd?), but it is interesting to see more execs are using it more for leisure than work. That seems back to front. I think Twitter is a great tool to use at work, but I don’t want to share the useless crap that I spend the rest of my life doing (that’s what Facebook is for – unless you really care that I lost at softball and am in some bar in North London).

I wonder if this at all connected to falling sign-up rates reported this week by WebProNews. It said that in October new people joining Twitter was down, but tweets were up.

It said November looked similar with new registrations continuing to decline and tweets grow with 9.5 tweets per registered user up from 9.3 in October.

Social Media – Other stats that came out of the FT/Doremus survey included that only 22% of senior executives use social media for business. That also seems worryingly low or shows the extent of the social media barrier that has yet to be breached.

More than half of the executives questioned said they read blogs, stream video and watch webcasts.

Community sites - Not sure if this all LinkedIn is, but the research found that more than half participated in community sites for work-related purposes (although I’m not sure I like how they have separated community sites from social media).

Also making inroads are social book marking sites, which increased from 8% in 2008 to 45% percent in 2009. Use of community sites increased from 24% in 2008 to 60% in 2009 (a big rise for LinkedIn as it passed that 3m milestone in the UK? — a  person has to find a job somewhere).

Blogs - Few have blogs with just over one in ten blogging although 31% contribute to a blog and 69% read one (well at least they know what a blog is – that’s a bonus).

Read more on Twitter is not catching on with senior execs…

Economist is a natural for paid content

On hearing the news this morning that The Economist is to charge for news content across its site I was wondering why they waited so long.

The Economist is a natural for paid content in the same way that the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are. They are likely to end up being select members of a very small paid content club. With the power of the distinctive Economist brand and loyal readership (talking of, which check Campaign’s “How the Economist changed tack to attract new readers”), I think it can successfully leverage the kind of analysis and insight it offers in to a paid content model.

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FT: people will pay for general news content

There is a longish piece in the New York Times over the weekend looking at The Financial Times and its paid content strategy. The paper quotes John Ridding, the chief executive of the FT, insisting that people will pay for general news content.

Read more on FT: people will pay for general news content…

Big and bold Murdoch takes the paid content gamble

Huge sigh of relief has been breathed around the world this morning by newspaper executives everywhere who were all waiting for someone to make the first move and charge for content. Rupert Murdoch has never been a patient man.

Murdoch has made the first move, taken the gamble and the turnpike towards paid content. What is so astounding about today’s news is that he is not testing the waters, not finding little pockets of content to charge for, no. He says he is going to charge for news.

More to the point he says he is going to charge for the content that everyone else says you can’t charge for. This is game changing and huge…either that or it’s a Titanic-sized disaster waiting to happen.

Potentially this means people in the UK will have to pay to get access to The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times (interesting timing with its new standalone website on the way) as well as Sky News. Not to mention all those other properties he owns around the world from The Australian to Fox News.

Murdoch is not simply talking about his newspaper properties online as he clearly realised that if you are going to charge for one type of online news (say The Times) then you can’t very well give away the very good Sky News for nothing. That makes no sense.

Over the past few months Murdoch has been mulling options with his executives. They have been looking at the great success that is the Wall Street Journal and clearly have drawn answers from that. Drawn answers from the WSJ’s one million subscribers.

Maybe it told them that it’s a big number, but more important it is a big number with implications for other big numbers: ie the numbers of users visiting its digital properties around the world.

As that sat around those tables, phrases such as subscription charges, premium content areas, e-readers and e-wallets (I’m sure there are other “e’s”), and micro payments were all bandied around.

In the end, having seen these options, Murdoch and his team have opted not to trial; not to fiddle while Rome burns; but to move forward on all fronts and charge for it all. Maybe Murdoch was looking at other people writing on the wall and he didn’t what he was seeing (Goolge aggregation; Amazon Kindle) as it was all slowly chipping away at his business and the only future that promised was death by a thousand cuts.

Read more on Big and bold Murdoch takes the paid content gamble…

Welcome to planet FT or how you can charge for content like the pink’un

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has been telling Channel 4 News why news organisations have to act now and charge for online content and how they can do it like the FT. Not sure about that one.

Timing is everything and it’s striking that the Financial Times is talking paid content in the week that Guardian Media Group is openly discussing closing the Observer.

The FT, of course, is in a unique position in British press journalism as it already charges for online content. It has 117,000 paying web subscribers – although only 10% of those registered on FT.com pay (like me). The rest view articles occasionally, but never take it any further nor will they (like me).

To begin, Barber says that the biggest mistake the industry made in the past ten years was not to charge users. He says the media was seduced into believing that information was free. Oh sweet seduction.

“We thought that as news organisations we could put our material out on aggregators like Google, attract a big audience and sell advertising on the back of it. In fact what we should have said is: ‘No, information actually has a price – it’s valuable and therefore we should charge for it.’” he told C4 News.

20:20 vision in hindsight is a godsend, but like the downturn itself no one saw this one coming. At the time free content looked like the logical way forward. The formula of: wide open digital spaces + large audiences = advertising revenues made sense.

Barber justifies his position by pointing to the fact that there are many other sources of free financial news that compete with the FT – such as Bloomberg (you could add Reuters and the BBC). His argument being that despite free content a strong authoritative brand can still win through and establish paid-for barriers.

“In order to adapt to the FT process news organisations will need to have a unique selling proposition – what is it that makes some news organisations special? We think we’ve been a pioneer in the way we’ve established a frequency model charging online [we assume Barber means the limit on the number of articles per month non-paying users can access].”

I think the FT has been (and I’m not knocking it) lucky. It almost reversed out of charging a while back as Rupert Murdoch made noises about making the Wall Street Journal free. Had he done that (more hindsight) then I doubt the FT would be in the position it is now in. Maybe more importantly Barber believes the online “mistake” of free content can be reversed and within the next year many news organisations will be charging.

“I think people are beginning to change but it’s up to us news providers, the content providers, to make that case. I think there is an inexorable momentum behind charging for content.

“For the simple reason, that (1), the advertising that we relied upon isn’t going to come back in the same way, and (2), that everybody is simply just realising this new internet age, that they need to actually charge for content and establish content as something valuable.

“What I would say to the competition and to the rest of the world is that it’s getting late. If we move now we can assure ourselves of a prosperous future.”

Barber is right about some of what he says, but he is wrong about the most important bits.

Yes, there is an inexorable momentum and yes advertising isn’t going to come back, but he is wrong about the FT being a model for anyone else other than the FT, which is itself a weaker model of the Wall Street Journal, which has one million plus subscribers – ten times more than the FT.

Those two papers exist in a subset, in their own self-contained paid content sphere, and their model is just that. Their model does not apply to general interest newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times or for that matter the poor old Observer. There’s no way back. The genie hates the bottle.

We already know people will pay for specialised news (for B2B, financial news) that they can’t necessarily get elsewhere. Bloomberg and Reuters like Barber says do pump out a lot of stories, but that isn’t the FT’s strength, which comes from its authority and its position in the marketplace and its commentary. That’s why people pay. At least that is why I think they pay.

I’m not sure where this “prosperous future” that Barber talks of lies. At the moment it looks like only select parts of the bulk of national newspapers could in anyway be charged for. There is simply too much that is free already.

Barber also talked about micro-payments and I’m sure that people will try this along with various other experiments. It is going to be a case of trial and error.

Read more on Welcome to planet FT or how you can charge for content like the pink’un…

From KFC to Habitat in the Twitterverse

The FT has a quick look at how KFC scored on Twitter and the pros-and cons of promotions.

Americans and their chicken, I will never get that, but KFC knocked it out of the park on Twitter earlier this year (with a few pitfalls) along the way. The fast food chain had agreed a deal with Oprah Winfrey to unveil the company’s move into grilled chicken (as part of its healthy push) with details of a voucher on her website for a free meal. That’s a lifetime’s supply for the queen of TV.

Once Opera gave the word that there was free chicken on offer that’s when it went retweet crazy on Twitter. As with other recent promotions such as Moonfruit’s recent Mac Book Pro giveaway, which backfired (although they gave 11 away), and Lenovo’s giveaway earlier this year, it proved once again that people on Twitter and everywhere like free stuff.

Read more on From KFC to Habitat in the Twitterverse…

Bunch of noobs; kid says stuff about web, City amazed!

Excuse the exclamation mark, but it’s the silly season, which has to account for the FT’s front page story about a 15-year-old on work experience at Morgan Stanley, who wrote a report for the bank and amazed analysts up and down the square mile: apparently kids do not watch TV and Twitter is only for grown-ups. Draw your own conclusion.

I wasn’t sure if the front page FT story “Media research note by ‘teenage scribbler’ causes City sensation” was a joke at first – it has a bizarre New York dateline.

The story recounts that the report by one Matthew Robson impressed the bank so much that it published it as a research note that went on to become “the talk of middle-aged media executives and investors”.

The FT quotes Edward Hill-Wood, head of Morgan Stanley’s European media team, saying his report proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen. So we published it”.

Without being at all insulting, what he told them was the obvious, namely the stuff that you and I and everyone around here knows.

1. Teenagers do not use Twitter. Why? Because no one follows them; and they have to pay to update on their phones.
2. Teenagers don’t watch regular television
3. They listen to ad-free music on sites such as Last.fm than tune into traditional radio.
4. Online advertising is “extremely annoying and pointless”.
5. They’re on Xbox Live and the PS3 playing Halo or CoD4 – just like in the is pic from GotGame.com
6. They go out and do stuff
7. Teenagers do not read newspapers, they can’t be “bothered to read pages and pages of text” rather than see summaries online or on television.

“We’ve had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day,” said Hill-Wood, 35, estimating that the note had generated five or six times more feedback than the team’s usual reports.

Is it me or are city analysts just a bunch of noobs? I mean really, I pose that question in all its derogatoriness quite seriously?

Whoever saw a teenager on Twitter other than Miley Cyrus (in case you were wondering about her, she “love rainbows, John Lennon, and Franklin, Tennessee”). If I didn’t have a job; I wouldn’t be on it either. I also wouldn’t blog or possibly get out of bed, but enough about me.

I could go on; I mean don’t get me started about online advertising and the waste of space that most of it is (search aside).

As with Twitter and online advertising, I’ve never thought that TV was really for teenagers. In my mind nothing has changed, I barely remember watching it after becoming a late teen and graduating. Isn’t the same true for newspapers?

Me? I’m waiting for the next “City sensation”. It has to be better than this one.

Read more on Bunch of noobs; kid says stuff about web, City amazed!…

Critics take a swipe at Chris Anderson’s new book

Chris Anderson is not having a good week. It’s open season on the Wired editor-in-chief who earlier this week suffered an assault by Malcom Gladwell in the New Yorker. Today it is the turn of the FT and its message is clear: “Free does not live up to its billing”.

Gladwell kicked off an East Coast versus West Coast face-off with his New Yorker piece earlier this week, but you know without the hollow points, in a damning review of Chris Anderson’s new book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price’ his follow up to his best seller ‘The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling More of Less’.

First up, the New Yorker writer dismissed Anderson as a technological utopian who had got it wrong.

Read more on Critics take a swipe at Chris Anderson’s new book…

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