‘Website must come second’ says Independent’s Kelner

[Keyword: ]. Interesting diversion from the recent decision taken by the Guardian and Times to publish some stories online first. The Press Gazette quotes the Independent editor Simon Kelner as saying “If you have an exclusive story at five o’clock to go in the following day’s newspaper, the idea that you would put it on the website for nothing strikes me as complete madness.”

Is this a wilful misunderstanding of what other papers are doing, or does Kelner genuinely believe that The Guardian would do that? Those newspapers who are publishing online first have already said they wouldn’t do so for an “exclusive”.

Similarly, Kelner argues “There is absolutely no model for a newspaper website to make money, and conversely what it can do is hit the value and currency of the printed product.”

Again, this seems to show a lack of awareness of the massive rise in online advertising revenue over the past couple of years, a rise that even managed to wake the techno-unfriendly Murdoch from his slumber into buying MySpace and urging his newspapers to embrace the web. As advertising flees from print, the canniest newspapers are protecting their territory by being able to offer advertisers an extended – and expanding – audience online.

The value that a website can add to the printed brand is also born out by the Guardian and Times’ decision to publish in America, a market where they already have an extensive online readership. Your website is not only part of your brand, but also part of your service. And The Independent’s flat, largely uninteractive site (how about this: a quiz you can’t take part in) does not do justice to the high quality of journalism and design in its printed version. What a shame.

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