News Ltd adapts its business model

News Ltd adapts its business model

News Limited are changing their business model to reflect the turbulent newspaper industry.


Is there a future for newspapers?
“Newspapers B&W (3),” © 2011, NS Newsflash, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license:

News Limited, are remaining optimistic for the future of the newspaper industry after recent statistics showed their large newspapers are still maintaining high circulation and readership.

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As a reaction to these statistics, News Limited are trying to strike a balance between print, online and mobile, something digital managing editor Chris Jones feels is very important.

“I think there is some great beauty about newspapers and the canvas of print where you can tell a long story, run it across a couple of pages, tell complex things through an info graphic that can run across those pages.

“The canvas of website is very different and you can introduce a lot of stuff as well. Not just text and static images, you start to introduce video or interactive multimedia and galleries and basic extra stuff,” he said.

To maintain this multi-platform approach, News Limited are subsidising the cost of producing journalism. This is nothing new for the company who explained that the cover price alone never supported the cost of doing business.

What this means is that instead of relying on classifieds and advertising, they will use other ventures such as Foxtel and Telstra.

In another attempt to save money, News Limited are going through an enormous restructure.

“We’re moving into a world where we need to compete in a marketplace and get our costs under control, the sort of margins we had were just ridiculous,” said Mr Jones.

“A lot of the restructuring we have in terms of cost cutting that’s going on is getting the numbers back to a model that’s sustainable in a real world environment.

“We are really making sure our focus isn’t on job cuts, although unfortunately we will have to cut jobs, but the big focus is remodelling the way we do business.”

The remodel will see a centralised division that services all papers in order to wash out all the inefficiencies as opposed to the older ‘federative model’ that saw each state run almost independently, doing their own strategies.

The effect this is having editorially is that local papers within states will no longer be a very distinct business, with newsrooms that didn’t communicate and would actively compete.

Rather, there will essentially be one newsroom for the state’s larger papers and the smaller local editors will all report to the state editorial director.

As a consequence they are moving to a seven-days a week, 24-hour news room.

“I think what you find will happen is that as a reader you will find this will actually be a good thing because you will have the combined effort of people filing these stories for when they are appropriate to be served to the audience” said Mr Jones.

In addition to structural changes, News Limited is also giving their editorial system a complete overhaul with the middle of next year seeing the implementation of a new $60 million system, Methode.

“Nowadays the reporters file through the newspaper system, so if they are working on a story it’s already kind of in the newspaper workflow, you have to take it out of that and put in digital. What Methode does is its platform agnostic, so it’s just content and by default it will be published everywhere.”

The other important change News Limited is making to their business is the use of analytics from their online content.

Through use of software, the company is able to track numerous statistics on stories such as what is trending, the duration consumers spend on a story and how far they read.

This not only helps maintain the website, but it drives what content can be further explored in the next day’s paper.

Image: “Newspapers B&W (3),” © 2011, NS Newsflash, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license