Will you pay for The Oz?

In a stroke of irony, The Australian released the following story online this afternoon:

THE Australian has announced it will launch digital subscriptions on Monday, with a three-month free trial for all readers.

Publisher News Limited said the national broadsheet’s strategy was built around a digital content pass which would provide access to The Australian online and on mobile and tablet devices using a single log-in.

To coincide with the launch of premium content, The Australian would also launch a redesigned website and a new mobile site, the company said.

The strategy was part of an evolution in news, said The Australian‘s editor Clive Mathieson.

The Australian has a lot of loyal readers for both the newspaper and online and we think what we do is valuable – and the fact that loyal readers are prepared to pay for our news via the newsagent and subscription shows that,” he said.

The Australian, the first general newspaper in Australia to launch paid content, will charge readers $2.95 per week for a basic digital subscription. Combination packages including print and digital subscriptions will cost up to $7.95 a week.

Existing six-day-a-week print subscribers will receive a complimentary digital subscription.

The Australian‘s digital subscriptions will use a freemium model that provides some free stories but charges for premium content such as analysis, opinion and more specialist material.

I’m a torn reader of The Australian. It’s got more intellectual grunt than the Fairfax dailies but its constant politics and defense of vested interests leaves me in a really bad mood if I read it in the morning. The balance of these impressions leaves me only willing to read the old dog free online.

I used, as well, to read the commentary – Michael Stutchbury especially – not because I liked his stuff, in fact, like the paper he had intellectual grunt but ideological blinkers, but because he warranted respect. However, he’s gone to edit the AFR.

David Uren is worth following. Matthew Stevens offers an occasional insight into BHP and John Durie breaks the odd story but I can live without them.

So, obviously I’m not going to subscribe, except perhaps professionally. How about you? Will you pay for The Oz online? Why? Why not?


  1. Pay for conservative propaganda to be rammed down my throat? No thanks! The Australian is the Fox News of Oz – why would I pay for that when I can get balanced info with substance from MB and the like for free?

    • Great news!
      The beginning of the end of MSM. Led by the greedy bogan king himself.
      Long live the revolution!

  2. Wow, given the quality of News Ltd’s journalism that’ll be hard decision 🙂

    I guess they must have thought that owning the only de-facto national newspaper allows them to get away with this.

    The good news is the average quality of free online news in AU will increase because of the News paywall.

  3. In a word….No.

    I still have the BBC world news website. I’m only going to be missing out on a bunch politically biased articles written to further someone’s agenda. So i’m not terrible worried.

    I would miss it if it were still like it was a a couple of years ago when the top 5 articles werent nearly always a mean spirited political stab at the left and right of politics and they actually just reported the news.

  4. News Corp is essentially untrustworthy. I don’t buy the hard copy – have not done so for many years – and certainly will not pay for online content.

    One day, when they cease trying to masquerade repetitious and deceitful opinion as news, I might buy it again. In the meantime, I hope they go out of business.

  5. Nope, won’t buy it, ever. The AFR is probably the only decent paper in this country. Also the faux left/right stances of editorials in newspapers and magazines generally is increasingly tiresome and irrelevant (even in the Economist). At least with a blog like MB the writers actually believe what they’re saying and don’t start by attacking an ideological opposite.

    My diet:

    News: Google news, ABC, The Age website (trash, but OK for Melbourne).

    Opinion/analysis: MB, FT, Economist, Project Syndicate, blogs, twitter links

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Agreed, I pay for the AFR paper subscribtion for the weekend edition. But there is no way I would pay for the Oz – even though it is the best of Murdoch’s papers by far.

  6. Interesting diet there Alex.

    Since you can get a feed from Reuters/Google news, and since the opinion/editorial policy of all major broadsheets is biased towards one complex (e.g political/housing) or the other, what’s the point?

    And then they want you to pay for it – and yet there’s next to no REAL analysis or relevant content?

    I’ve told the other chaps here and I’m sure some of you agree, but Macrobusiness with a news and data/charting/Twitter feed plus links to the competent economic blogosphere would satisfy 99% of my “media” diet.

    • The BurbWatcherMEMBER

      …oh, and a “data of the day” summary portal/pages(s).

      eg. forex, metals, commodities, global stocks, other “important” numbers, indicators,…..you know, the things I/many check of a morning (what happened last night?)

      Something like that could compliment the “links” well?

      Means i just have to visit MB instead of several different sites!

      Just some thoughts…. 🙂

  7. General Disarray

    I’ve never read it and don’t feel the need to start. It kind of seems similar to smoking; a waste of money, not good for you, and turns you into a social outcast in many circles.

  8. i wouldn’t wipe my ass with the australian.

    its bad enough you can get it for free, now they want you pay to be brainwashed by losers like Terry Ryder? forget it!

    if the oz is worth $2.95 a week then MB must be worth (Dr Evil voice with pinky on lip) 1 million dollars!

  9. No, but I like the fact that they are promising to put their opinion writers behind the firewall. Should make the Internet a safer place if I can’t accidentally run across a few of those writers…

  10. I do quite like the Australian but no I will not pay to get access to it. There are a few great journalists there with broad, analytical articles as there are within the fairfax group also, but most days headlines are enough for me.

    I get my news fix from Bloomberg, Reuters, FT , the Economist, some other European sites, MB and Zh and rarely other blogs.

  11. The Australians not so bad. Starting your day with a good laugh is always a plus.

    I get my fix from: MB (of course), SMH, ZH, Naked Capitalism and for a quick browse, Jesse’s Café Américain, Bronte Capital, Credit Writedowns and Billy Blog.

  12. I can’t quite work out where the vitriol from other MB readers comes from.

    I have subscribed to the Oz 6-day print edn for many years, and I will pay for online too.

    I am quite happy to read Saltie, Ryder and other members of the crypto-property bloc. News flash: you can read something and learn from it without agreeing with it.

    As a reputable daily survey of national news which goes beyond the business / finance sphere, there is no competition, even in the blog era.

    Sure, there is a tendency for the editorial direction to show capture from certain interests. But there is also a history of shining the light on rent-seeking industries and cosy industry-union cabals which makes a refreshing change from Fairfax and much of the political orthodoxy.

    There is a reason that the Oz remains mandatory reading for the business and political elite in this country. Rest assured, if that changes I will be among the many who jump ship.

    • As a reputable daily survey of national news which goes beyond the business / finance sphere, there is no competition, even in the blog era.

      We shall redouble our efforts!

    • Personally I’ll stick to the AFR for my mandatory business reading. I like my analysis without the overbearing political bias.

      Having said that. most of The Australian’s business opinion pieces are worth reading.

    • ‘Sure, there is a tendency for the editorial direction to show capture from certain interests.’

      I stopped reading the Australian for its general news content when it’s editor decided that their mission was to “destroy the NBN in any and all forms”. Also when they declared war on the Greens, that was pretty funny and confirmed all my suspicions of overt partisanship.

      That said, if I’m standing in line at Subway and there’s a copy of the business section on the table, I might have a browse.

  13. I am a bit older than some of you guys. I was an orignal subscriber to the first issue of THE AUSTRALIAN published sometime in the 1960’s. In those times Cricket tests were commented by radio with fake sounds for bat on ball.
    I stopped reading THE AUSTRALIAN and the AFR on line a couple of years ago. My reason had nothing to do with cost. I stopped reading these publications in print and online simply because the free blogs did a better job.

  14. I read the OZ daily – whether I will get the online subscription I am not sure.

    I do get delivered to my offices every morning and the weekend Oz at home.

    Probably the most comprehensive newspaper in Australia.

  15. In short: no. The Australian started to deteriorate almost a decade ago. As the bias became more apparent, I gave up my subscription. Twelve months ago, I stopped buying the occasional weekend paper. Six months ago, I stopped checking the website. Last weekend, I took a couple of printed articles from MB to the cafe to read over breakfast.

    I would add that I have also given up on Fairfax. I’ve also given up on the Economist, which sticks to an overly simplistic view of the world, and has a sickeningly formulaic writing style.

    Most of my news and analysis comes from the web. For news: Google News, BBC, ABC. For analysis: the Conversation, Macrobusiness, blogs.

  16. Every place I’ve worked in ( broking, life companies, banks ) has had it as a subscription in the kitchen/break area.

    and it’s always sat unread. always.

    so no, i wouldn’t by it online, and it will not even read it for free.

    • “…and it’s always sat unread. always.”

      Big words, complex ideas and cogent argument are scary.

  17. Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

    No. If they paid me to read it I would. Financial blogs like MB are a cut above The Australian, AFR and other financial papers in terms of analysis, discussion commentary and honesty. Keep it up lads!

    I thought that perhaps my experience was unique but I can see that many others feel the same. If their advertisers read this feedback they would cringe as a lot of MB’s readership would be their target market.

    I used to read the AFR daily and then when I felt its quality was declining (2004) I switched to the weekend edition only. By 2006 I stopped altogether with the AFR and do not even miss it. Its analysis today is often laughable.

    As for the Australian it was a quality broadsheet. The Weekend Australian was a sub until 2005 and then I bought it occasionally. I read it online daily until 2009 but now only go there when I see a link worth pursuing. The bias did not really bother me (it is at least obvious) but I prefer well reasoned and argued articles with cited evidence and this is sorely lacking.

    The Economist sub ran out in 2005 – its style was becoming annoying. I will read a copy in an airport but would not buy it.

    The only papers I receive now are the two free local weekly papers. One is terrible (this one was dominated by the property ads) and one is very good for local news and happenings.

  18. I open it online most days, but find the avalanche of negative opinion pieces about how everything is the governments fault more than a little annoying these days. So most of what I tend to do is scan it, looking for anything of interest. I avoid pieces by Shanahan and Sheridan, but occasionally enjoy Jack the Insider.
    I will not pay to read it.
    I read the Guardian on line, and also look at ABC, BBC, and SBS and find those are fine for keeping me up to date with the news that is of interest to me….and that’s stuff which is either not covered by the Australian, or is presented, but with the normal News Ltd bias.
    I quite like the MB blog because it offers interesting discussions…without the nastiness that seems to appear on a lot of blog sites where people are unable to be civil to each other.
    I also read one of the local papers that is put in my letterbox and find it actually has some good investigative journalism in it.

  19. Not likely to pay for a sub – I glance through it at work for getting a flavour of the Murdoch propaganda item of the day, and to be fair it’s got probably the best IT section of any major paper, including a number of overseas ones.

    That said, chances are the pay wall will be as leaky as the WSJ – just link to it from Twitter or search for the title of your interested post from google and you get to view it free for that single page. The only pay wall I’ve seen as truly effective is AFR’s.

  20. Murdoch press?? I avoid their FREE Mx evening newspaper like it is the plague. Enough said.

    Google News for me + Pulse app with RSS feeds from MB, NC etc.

    That reminds me check on that AFR subscription – they took money off me couple of weeks ago, but haven’t delivered any paper yet.. arrgh.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Yeah, MX is probably rather profitable for Murdoch given the effort required to produce vs the advertising revenue.

      News ‘Lite’ is probably the most polite thing I can say about it.

      Although I do like the ‘Overhead’ section 🙂

      The rest of it is basically rubbish.

  21. I won’t pay for the Australian, or the AFR as they don’t represent value regardless of any bias. There are so many better ways to get news now.

  22. SkoptimistMEMBER

    No. I certainly wouldn’t pay for it. I stopped reading the free online content some time ago as I find it overly biased.

  23. Why do people always say “The Australian is biased” when they mean “The Australian’s editorial bias does not align with my own and that irritates me”?

    The Australian and the AFR are the only two newspapers in Australia of any worth. If you don’t like the bias of the Oz, don’t read the three articles each day with the thin line around them. Personally, I do find the social conservatism a tad irksome, but compared to the US or Iran it’s hardly overbearing (despite what some of MB’s more excitable retards I mean readers may believe). Besides that it’s really just an emphasis economic liberalism and individual responsibility. I can live with that sort of bias.

  24. Lucius, the bias is most apparent to me when it comes to reporting on climate change. The Australian presents information which is contrary to the findings of climate scientists. That bias is distinct from editorial bias. This is one example of the opinion as fact approach that the Australian suffers from.

    • So there is no disagreement amongst climate scientists. No climate models have not had their variables expanded to accommodate arising data such that the whole model has become meaningless?
      There is no room for any criticism of some of the climate so-called science?
      There is no room for any opposing opinion. That is my problem with the climate debtate. It’s a dangerous trend.

      Lucius is right. There is a tendency for group think here. As one write put it reading the OZ would make him a social outcast.

      That being said I don’t read the free OZ. Not sure why I just get nothing from it I guess.
      Having said that I note that a lot of people here nominate the ABC as one of their prime sources of news. What is the difference between the ABC and the OZ except they sit on opposite sides of the political see-saw?

      • You’d have to be really one-eyed to not see an anti-carbon campaign going on at The Oz.

        The irony is I don’t think it give s a hoot either way. That’s not how the Murdoch stable works. It serves it’s masters interests. No the nation’s or yours.

        If it aligns with your view today, it’s coincidental.

  25. HnH…….you might like to send a link to this item to the editors at News Corp. There are clearly many erstwhile readers who have been driven away by the editorial policies in place at News.

    This is strange to me. In most industries, business owners spend a lot of money to acquire customers and generally don’t insult them so often that they leave, never to return. Yet that is what the Murdoch Press have been doing for decades. The publishing industry is not indispensable. Their products are a purely discretionary spend, and, in general, represent very poor value for money. Until they start to treat the market with respect, they will continue to see their businesses wither away.

    Really, their entire business model seems to be designed to ensure they become a completely irksome irrelevance.

  26. DelraiserMEMBER

    Afraid not. The general standard of news and reporting in this country are well below what I would consider acceptable. As much as many in Australia love to mock the US, I find their media to be far more robust in their political analysis. I for one love to catch the News Hour on SBS if I finish early enough, as that is for me the epitome of a balanced and rigorous news program

  27. Specialist blogs/news sites trump MSM every time.

    If I can’t see your sources I’m not interested. If your statements aren’t supported by data I’m not interested. If you don’t provide a forum where dissenters can argue their point I’m not interested. If you quote stats in the form of a single figure and look at me blankly when I ask for the error, I’m not interested.

    Happy to hear opinions, as long as their thoughtful or entertaining.

    Its the 21st century. News is more than six column inches in a single paper.

    So no. Won’t pay for The Oz. Would pay for Macrobusiness though…

  28. I find that the MSM are always late/behind on the truly important stories and just full of fluff otherwise (as such, i only visit SMH to get my fill of ‘fluff’). A combination of blogs/websites suits my needs far better than any MSM source.

    So no, i wouldnt pay for it. In fact the only time i read anything on the Australian is when someone else sends me a link.

  29. No, because I really can’t stand reading pieces by Greg Sheridan, or seeing him. He’s an extreme “Israel is always right” writer, truly the neocon’s neocon. He supported Howard’s involvement in the Iraq war to the hilt. When I used to read him I got the feeling that Israel could do no wrong, that they could misuse any country’s passports, kill opponents in other countries, grab as much land as they wanted for building settlements, attack Iran and he would never criticize them for any of it.

    There is no balance in the Oz and they’ve also run a concerted climate change skepticism campaign in the last year, probably alienating large segments of the population for life.