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News Ltd lashes out at bloggers

BY ARI SHARP
Last updated 11:43 03/07/2009

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News Limited's chief executive, John Hartigan, has launched a broadside on bloggers and other online amateurs, arguing they are no substitute for professional journalists.

His attack came as he gave an update on his company's plan to generate revenue on the internet through charging for content rather than attracting advertising, and hinted at plans to stymie news aggregator sites such as Google's and Yahoo's.

In a speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Mr Hartigan attacked sites such as Crikey and Mumbrella for their heavy reliance on the work of newspapers and news wire services, claiming less than 10 per cent of their content was original reporting.

His most scathing attack was reserved for bloggers, who, he said, lacked resources and access to key decision-makers.

"In return for their free content, we pretty much get what we've paid for - something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance," he said.

He said blogs often gave a platform for "radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence".

Mr Hartigan's attack on blogs came a month after his company launched the news commentary website The Punch, which he said was reaching 200,000 users in its first month, compared to the target of 80,000. Next month Fairfax Media, the owner of The Sydney Morning Herald, will launch its own news commentary website, The National Times.

As part of a global effort to increase revenue from the internet, Mr Hartigan said News Limited has established three teams around the country to investigate options for charging for content on its websites, which is at present free to users and relies on advertising for revenue.

Mr Hartigan indicated the company had plans to bypass the news aggregators. "We from this day own our own material and are going to go about getting it to the masses through our own sources without going through businesses like Google," he said.

 

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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