Tag Archives: Guardian Media Group

Wired stands by story after Guardian denies iPhone app paywall plans

If, like me, you’re a regular reader of The Guardian‘s media coverage, or you listen to their Media Talk podcast, you might have been surprised to have read the following in the February 2010 UK edition of Wired:

The Guardian… hopes users of it’s £2.39 (iPhone) app will pay extra for privileged access to in-demand columnists. (p.89)

This seems to fly in the face of what I know about The Guardian‘s digital strategy. The Guardian have always seemed to be staunch opponents of paywalls, and Emily Bell, Director of Digital Content at Guardian News & Media, always seems to me to take a particularly strong line that she doesn’t want to charge for online content. I asked her to comment on Wired‘s claim. “I’m not sure where the ‘columnists’ assumption comes from, not us, that’s for sure. Bit off beam” she told me on Twitter (incidentally the ‘columnists’ in question include David Rowan, Wired‘s Editor, who co-wrote the piece).

So, order is restored to my universe: The Guardian is still the bastion of free online content, creatively looking for another way to make digital pay. But wait, what’s this? Wired have weighed back in, with this tweet:

@jonhickman @emilybell Came from a senior Guardian exec who demonstrated the app in person, actually

So, are The Guardian really thinking about paywalls? Was this loose talk? Has there been a misunderstanding? Is someone fibbing?

I don’t know, but I think it matters. The Guardian‘s online brand seems to be about free: free data, free access, free comment. If there’s a grain of truth in Wired‘s claim, what does it tell us about the future of online access?

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A new nomination for Worst Newspaper Video – Reading Evening Post does it again

A student writes: “I dont think the Reading Evening Post read your blog Paul. If they did, they didn’t pay much attention...”

Yes, the previous contender for Worst Newspaper Video have done it again. But this time, instead of Sports Editor David Wright, it’s young gun News Reporter Stuart White, who looks quite smart in the official picture that sits above a slightly less well-dressed moving picture version of the same.

The 1980s-era production style remains, with the same stock music, garish graphics – and this time, some appalling spinning, zooming, transition wipes.

Stuart’s challenge: to read out the day’s headlines “in just 60 seconds“. Yes, that’s some challenge. Perhaps someone should suggest that idea to BBC3.

One problem: when you take out the credits it’s not actually 60 seconds, which may be why Stuart is drowned out by the closing music at the end, just as David Wright was before him. Do they ever watch their own videos?

I’ll be more barbed: Stuart has the flat delivery of a 12-year-old reading ‘What I did on my summer holidays’, while his eyes flit below the camera like he’s checking his emails as well as reading the headlines. Presumably he’s reading a script. Doesn’t he know what the news is?

And what was that about a “sweet Haribo ring”? Some lessons in writing for broadcast needed.

Of course I’m being harsh, and as before this is not Stuart’s fault. Step up owners Surrey and Berkshire Newspapers Limited, part of the Guardian Media Group.

The one good thing is they’ve discovered YouTube, so unlike last time, I can embed it below for your convenience and their viewing figures. Let’s see if I can generate more views from this blog than from their own site – at least it will prove the value of making your video embeddable.

PS: As if by magic, Andy Dickinson has created his own video summarising the kind of thinking that leads to this stuff: