Over at Roy Greenslade's excellent new press blog, Roy comments on the three different strategies announced by the Guardian, Telegraph and Times this week. The Times is publishing a print edition in New York; the Guardian is moving to expand in print and online in the US, as well as putting some of its content online first; whilst the Telegraph is scaling back the immediacy of its online operations and delaying the publication of stories to its website. Which, he asks, is right?
It depends, of course, on what they are trying to achieve, and therein appears to lie the answer. The Guardian's Scott Trust has a duty to disseminate the Guardian's content as widely as possible, and this acknowledgement that the Guardian has many more digital readers and an untapped US audience seems to fulfil that mission admirably. The management of News Corp, owner of the Times, is duty-bound to maximise the value to shareholders and the strategy outlined by the Times is equally defensible in light of their particular remit.
The interesting one, for me, is the Telegraph, where the ultimate duty is to the dictats of its owners the Barclay Brothers. A retreat from the web makes short-term financial sense because news publishing continues to generate far higher revenues in print than online (DigitalDeliverance) - but taking the longer view this simply invites audience erosion via demographic and technological inevitability and is a recipe for disaster. It looks plausible therefore that the Barclays are, quite consciously, engaged in what Michael Porter calls a "harvesting strategy". The answer to Roy's question, therefore, is possibly that all of them are right, from the point of view of what they appear to be aiming to achieve.