Sunday, February 06, 2005

More on the Crikey sale

Margaret Simons in Saturday's Age covers the bases efficiently. Among other things Simons is the author of Fit to Print: Inside the Canberra Press Gallery, one of the better essays on the relationship between media and politics in Australia's capital.

And she gets the difference between a web site and an email newsletter! So does new co-owner, Eric Beecher:
"Beecher says the email method of delivery is unique in the world. The arrival of Crikey in the inbox, he says, carries the same satisfying feeling as the arrival of a newspaper over the fence. 'I wish we could organise for it to arrive with a thud noise, like a newspaper hitting the veranda.'"
Unique in the world? Big claim! But at least he recognises it's one of the keys to Crikey's success.

Beecher's wonderment at Crikey's use of email delivery is kind of strange given his experience in the media and his reputation as a sharp operator. He recently sold his company, Text Media, to Fairfax for $64 million.

A bio reads: Eric Beecher is

"an absolute media junkie who's been in journalism since he was about 12 years old. He's worked on Australian and British newspapers, been editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, editor in chief of the Herald & Weekly Times group, and was one of the founders of The Text Media Group."

But despite this experience he's still amazed at the power of email. Still, even this is consistent with his enthusiasm for his other current project, The Reader.

The Reader is just plain odd, imo. It's not a web-based product; the minimal site is just a subscription driver for the print product. But the print product is a roundup/summary of the week's events as published by other media, all of which have web sites.

Beecher's Reader retails for $4 a week, or $192 a year subscription. It describes itself as "a nifty, pocket-sized weekly magazine that cherry-picks from over 650 newspapers, magazines and websites to bring you intelligence from everywhere".

OK, the idea of filtering the important stuff is fine. The Reader also summarises a lot of editorial. But I can't understand why anyone would seriously expect to make money competing against free alternatives. The web is no longer a different universe, and The Reader's (presumably) AB target audience is also an online audience. So, of that AB demographic, you're selling to either an elderly, anti-web readership or ... who?

No comments: