Web bigwigs: Murdoch's paywalls are a mistake

Leading industry figures from the web have rounded on Rupert Murdoch and suggested that he was wrong to put The Times behind a paywall. 

Speaking during a panel at the Future of Media event during Internet Week New York, Google News senior business product manager Josh Cohen defended Google's news aggregation service following criticism from Murdoch. He said that Google News sent sites huge amounts of traffic with around a billion clicks a month.  

Cohen stated that Murdoch was wrong to express the view that Google was stealing news. He talked about some simple code that any website could include that would exclude it from Google News. “The vast majority of 25,000 sources see the value that we're giving them”, he said. 

Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post stated that The Times' paywalls were “not a good business decision”. She said that it was a good move for The Times' rivals, including her own news website, because there would be more consumers looking elsewhere. She went on to say that people were only really prepared to pay for information that is exclusive, such as financial data, and “really weird porn”. 

The panel agreed that the way to make money online was through advertising, not paywalls, but admitted that advertisers need to engage the audience more especially with extra advertising money arriving online from offline sources. 

NBC News' chief legal analyst Dan Abrams stated that advertisers were no longer content with simple banner advertising. He said: “we want people to see it, pay attention to it and think about it”.

What's your take on all of this? How is the web going to sustain itself when it comes to paying for content? A revamped advertising model or by putting up paywalls? And more importantly, what sort of weird porn do you think Huffington was talking about? Give us your thoughts using the comments below.     



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