07 December 2009

Reuters straw poll reveals media execs (mostly) read free news

When Reuters reported that consumers would have to face up to the fact that the digital content they’d enjoyed for free would eventually come with a price tag, journalist Robert MacMillan asked media executives how they read their news.

He found that plenty of them – those, he reminds us, who are trying to find the ways to generate money from what they produce – still read free news.

Whilst they still pay for some of their news, he suggests that perhaps the “romance with free content” isn’t quite dead yet.

Below are the responses he included in his story, when he approached the execs at Reuters’ Global Media summit, which interestingly suggest that perhaps the execs aren't entirely ready to practice what they preach:

Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development at Google Inc (who, MacMillan notes, despite Google’s despised status among newspaper defenders, pays for some of his news):
“I read my news in a combination of Twitter, Facebook, Google News and The New York Times. I get my New York Times delivered to my house. I have it before I wake up. I scan through it. I get my newspapers in planes and whenever I have a sort of down moment, I am following CNN, the BBC, Reuters, TechCrunch and a whole lot of other relevant people at Twitter… If I have a free moment at my desk, I will go onto the Google News site to see what’s happening in the world. For some reason, I feel as informed as I used to be when I used to read two newspapers every morning.”

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global:
“I may not read my local paper much anymore, but I never miss reading the Journal. Primarily because I want to know what I’m missing. I’m looking at it more like a student than a consumer. I need this information — I don’t want it, I need it.”

Andrew Barron, chief operating officer of Virgin Media:
Multiple sources: Internet, Blackberry… the Financial Times, The Times of London and the Daily Mail. He gets home delivery, but doesn’t read the papers until evening.

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League:
“I start in the morning, first thing, like somebody in their mid 50s, by going through traditional newspapers. And then I go from there to online. Obviously because of the nature of our business, I get news flashes instantaneously through my Blackberry.”

Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of Epix:
“I have to admit, I still watch the evening news. I’m sort of an old-fashioned kind of guy, a dying breed, an avid reader of the Times and the Journal. I will admit, though, that when I travel, I take my Kindle with me, and I prefer to download it. So it’s been an interesting change for me as a person who always liked reading paper, to now all of a sudden the Kindle, which has changed how I read a newspaper.”

Hilary Schneider, executive vice president of Yahoo North America (and an alumna of Knight Ridder, an extinct newspaper publisher):
“I’m a mixed-media consumer of news. I start every day on Yahoo, as you would expect, to get the highlights. I am a Kindle reader so I also, when I’m traveling, keep up through the Kindle. And I am a hard-core, old-fashioned newspaper reader on the weekends or when I’m on airplanes.”

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