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Columbus Dispatch Signs On To News Corp. Digital Plans; UK Pubs Balking

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A few more details are seeping out about News Corp.’s Project Alesia initiative to create new digital products for its own outlets and for other publishers. The Columbus Dispatch (circ: about 170,000) plans to take part in a download offering that will be constantly updated, Phil Pikelny, VP-digital, told Poynter’s Damon Kiesow.

Comparing the News Corp product to the paper’s current iPad edition, which is a “replica-plus” download of that day’s print edition, Pikelny wrote: “Currently, our news updates, and breaking news, are found on our website. In a project we’ll be doing with News Corporation, the content you download at any time during the day will have the latest, or breaking, news available at the time you access our digital content on their platform.” They’re also looking at enhancements that would add breaking news to the replica version.

And again about News Corp.’s paid-content model: “We have been talking with News Corporation to enlist our products in a paid content model they will be debuting later this year. In that case, our news content would be part of a paid subscription on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones/tablets, BlackBerry phones/tablets, etc.”

That fits in with a report earlier this week by Guardian’s Jemima Kiss about News Corp.’s efforts to create a multi-publisher, or aggregated, news app for UK publishers through News International. She singles out the iPad but my understanding is that the concept overall is not limited to a single device.

NI’s rival UK publishers are concerned about editorial control, according to her post, with one source going so far as to say: ” It would feel like Rupert was editor” while admitting to the economic potential of a bundled offering. This sounds a bit like the shipwreck survivors who would rather stay marooned than trust someone who offers a rational rescue plan because she’ll be in the lead. The almost knee-jerk fear that Murdoch would favor his own papers in a mutli-publisher product is understandable but ignores his pragmatic streak. News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). stands to benefit twice from such efforts — once as a publisher and again as the developer/distributor — and will have to be fair or fail.

Back to the Dispatch for a second — be sure to read the post for a laser-look at one paper’s varied digital strategy, including the ways it’s managing paid access to the iPad.

One Response to “Columbus Dispatch Signs On To News Corp. Digital Plans; UK Pubs Balking”

  1. Reykjavik

    Dude — the rest of us are talking about this under NDA. Talk to your lawyer before opening your mouth. If I were NewsCorp, I’d drop your cornbelt paper in a heartbeat.