Is a media boomlet on the way?

Don’t get too excited but there’s a bit of evidence that one might be, after what seems like years of doomy decline.

And the unlikely beneficiary (or one of them anyway) is newspapers.

Far more predictable is the agent of boomlet, uncle Rupert Murdoch, who seemed like just about the only businessman in the world who still believed in newspapers until Russian Alexander Lebedev, the new owner of London’s Evening Standard and the Independent, hove into view.

Murdoch’s News Corporation is hiring 35 journalists to work on a new New York edition of his financial paper the Wall Street Journal at the same time as other US media owners includes Disney’s ESPN sports channel are on the lookout for new journalists.

Cynics might say that Murdoch’s only doing this to try to put the New York Times out of business (his New York WSJ is savagely undercutting NYT ad rates) which would put several hundred hacks out of a job but that’s the Digger for you.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, private equity veteran John Moulton is due to announce that his new firm Better Capital has beaten eight other bidders to buy the UK edition of Reader’s Digest which went into administration last year.

Moulton is a wily old cove and is obviously aware that the Humour in Uniform mag went bust because its previous private equity owners burdened it with too much debt.

But what’s causing this boomlet? Murdoch’s plans for paid-for online content? The hope that the iPad will bring back readers in their droves? Or just that advertising is set for a long overdue upswing?

Let’s hope it’s not just chaps of a certain age being sentimental about print.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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