Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free Fails Murdoch

This evening two reputations are in the balance. Chris Anderson, the Editor of Wired and the guy who wrote ‘The Long Tail’ and ‘Free’ and possibly the Roland Barthes of our generation, and Rupert (also read ‘mini me’ James) Murdoch.

One of London’s two free newspapers has been closed down by is publishers and has proved that a) NewsCorp/News International is not immune from economics and that b) Mr Anderson was very wrong in many of his contentions (but the book, which you can buy below is nevertheless IMHO, well worth a read).

This may seem to have very little to do with the core themes of this blog, but ‘free’ and ‘media’ are central themes of Internet TV. Indeed, the ultimate free media site is YouTube, that popular service so readily subsidised by Google.

News International was, apparently, subsidising The London Paper to the tune of £30m a year (most spent on annoying ‘distributors’ who would try to block your way home and stuff one of these awful rags into your hand). Whatever they claim, this is well under one twentieth of what Google are splashing out on YouTube (if you count the servers, the power and the lawyers). Media has to rethink ‘free’ and Murdoch is already making noises.

Free itself is a pain. My workplace and my bus station are around a hundred yards and every evening I am accosted by Scientologists (these nutters have a ‘shop’ on the street), chuggers (selling redemption, not really for free) and ‘distributors’ of both the London evening freebies, which they clearly can’t give away.

Now all I’m hoping is that the London Paper distributors don’t see the space light and go and join the pre-programmed Scientologists.

Perhaps Murdoch can learn a thing or two from the business model of this religion who seem to be thriving on a street corner his company can’t hack.