News Corp. buys Skiff, invests in Journalism Online

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, June 14, 2010 14:26 EDT
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WASHINGTON — News Corp. announced Monday it has bought Skiff, an electronic reading platform developed by Hearst Corp., and invested in Journalism Online, a company which seeks to help news organizations make money on the Web.

“Today’s developments underscore News Corporation’s ongoing commitment to create strong business models that support journalism at a time of great change in our industry,” News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller said.

“Both Skiff and Journalism Online serve as key building blocks in our strategy to transform the publishing industry and ensure consumers will have continued access to the highest quality journalism,” he said in a statement.

Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

The acquisition of Skiff from newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst and the investment in Journalism Online are the latest moves in News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch’s campaign to get readers to pay for newspapers online.

As print advertising revenue evaporates and circulation erodes, US newspaper and magazine publishers have been looking to carve out a future on the Internet and with e-readers and mobile devices.

Murdoch has announced plans to eventually make readers pay for online access to all of the newspapers in the News Corp. stable.

The Wall Street Journal, a News Corp. paper, currently charges for full online access and The Times and Sunday Times are poised to become the first newspapers in Britain to begin charging readers on the Web.

Skiff is an e-reading platform designed to deliver layouts for newspaper and magazine content to tablet computers, smartphones, e-readers and netbooks.

Skiff has also been developing an e-reader but the acquisition announcement from News Corp. did not mention any plans for the device, which has yet to hit the market and has been overshadowed by the release of Apple’s iPad.

Journalism Online was launched in April of last year by three veteran US media executives with the goal of helping newspapers and magazines collect revenue from their online readers.

The company has developed a payment platform called “Press+” that would allow subscribers to access paid content at the websites of its affiliates using a universal Journalism Online account.

“We’re delighted by this (News Corp.) investment and this vote of confidence,” Journalism Online co-founder Steven Brill said.

“We’re especially pleased with this investment because News Corp. is the industry leader in making the case that there is value in journalism online for which readers will be willing to pay,” added co-founder Gordon Crovitz.

News Corp. also announced that Jon Housman, who has been a strategic adviser to the company for several years, had been named president of News Corp.’s digital journalism initiatives.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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