Global: New SCMP owner drops paid online content

Global: New SCMP owner drops paid online content

Readers of Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post will no longer be charged for content on its website as the company drops its paywall and launches a new mobile app.

The move follows the purchase of the paper by internet giant Alibaba Group last December.

Alibaba is now focusing on finding the right business model for the paper and is prioritising changes to adapt to the consumption habits of its readers.

Editor-in-chief Tammy Tam said the move “paves the way for the SCMP to grow its readership globally”.

“It is our firm belief that as China plays an increasingly critical role in world politics and the economy, a global community of China stakeholders will demand insightful and trusted news and commentaries from a within-the-region perspective,” she said.

VICE ordered to hand over digital messages

A VICE News reporter has been ordered by a Canadian court to hand over all communications between him and an Islamic State fighter to federal police, the digital magazine reports.

National security reporter Ben Makuch used chat app Kik to correspond with Farah Shirdon who was charged in absentia with six-terrorism offences last year and has been issued a red notice through Interpol for his capture and return to Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police argued in court the communications with Shirdon were needed for evidence to prove their charges, but VICE argued police seizure of any journalists’’ records would violate press freedoms.

“Our reporting has allowed the RCMP to charge Shirdon in absentia. We are not protecting Shirdon’s identity or whereabouts, and we believe we have published all relevant material that is within the public interest,” said Patrick McGuire, head of content for VICE Canada.

“VICE News, and every other Canadian journalistic organisation, must be permitted to operate as an entity that is independent from law enforcement.”

Long form drives 23pc more engagement

The myth that readers are not engaged with long form content online has been dealt a major blow with research finding stories with an average of 1200 words drive 23 per cent more engagement, lift page views by 11 per cent and sharing by 45 per cent.

The findings were revealed in a paper by American Press Institute execute director Tom Rosenstiel who details an effort to produce more useful analytics in a project that involved 55 publications and more than 400,000 articles.

Mr Rosenstiel and his team developed a new system for the project that tags stories based on their true topic, rather than SEO terms, to provide more useful data to editors.

The paper also details the power of photography with stories with photos scoring 19 per cent higher in engagement than those without, and those with multiple photos scoring 43 per cent higher.

Stories about government that have photos score 75 per cent higher in engagement than those that don’t.

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