A significant marker in the rapid evolution of news media has just been passed – and it wasn’t the resignation of Rupert Murdoch from the boards of his UK newspaper companies or the charging of News of the World journalists.
The Daily Mail’s online edition, MailOnline, is reported to have just made its first operating profit. The site, driven by carefully-judged global celebrity coverage and a little sprinkling of soft porn, overtook the New York times some months ago to log the world’s largest user numbers for a news site. The NYT, for once sniffy for understandable reasons, said that they didn’t consider it competition.
So we have these developments to interpret:
- In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, News Corp is dividing its TV and entertainment businesses from publishing (and Murdoch has resigned from some boards).
- MailOnline, free to users, has reached an audience scale where advertising revenue starts to arrive in worthwhile quantity.
- Several prominent news publishers find their digital publishing initiatives (The Guardian, The Times, The Daily) stranded without any obvious business model.
- Two of Australia’s major papers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age, have fired their editors, are slashing their editorial staffs and hinting that they may have to abandon printing.
- In Scandinavia, paywall experiments proliferate.