The Sunday Times, Britain’s dominant weekly broadsheet, will increase the volume and breadth of its business coverage as a result of Rupert Murdoch’s new online media strategy, says the paper’s new business editor Dominic O’Connell.
At a briefing organised this morning by Gorkana, the media database provider, we heard O’Connell and his deputy Iain Dey explain the priorities of the business section, which O’Connell began editing in February, and some details of what to expect from the new Sunday Times website, to be launched later this year.
As a result of News Corporation’s plan to erect paywalls around its online news content, the Sunday Times will for the first time have its own dedicated website, rather than continue to share timesonline.com with its sister daily newspaper. To access the Sunday Times site, visitors will have to pay £2.00, the same price as the print edition of the paper. As O’Connell says, this is an interesting experiment, and rival publishers will be watching closely to see whether it succeeds.
O’Connell’s message is basically of continuity in the business section, rather than changes in structure or style. However, he explains that the new website is likely to increase the number of stories covered each week. At present, 14-15 business stories are published by the paper each week, with the same items appearing on the website. These stories have been whittled down from a longer list of 20-25 articles, the rest of which are simply discarded in light of changing news priorities. However, with the new website, some of those discarded items may in future end up being published online. Since O’Connell says that a surprising number of the paper’s readers are outside of the UK, the online audience would appear to be quite large.
Another change will be the launch of a midweek online news update. While it sounds as if plans are still under development, O’Connell expects to publish an online analytical section, in the style of the Financial Times’ Lex column, as well as a multimedia news item, which will presumably be an online video.
Therefore, companies seeking coverage in the Sunday Times may soon have a few more bites at the cherry, and, if their story works well as video, a new way of capturing the attention of the paper’s sought-after readership.
The big proviso, however, is that any story must still meet the business section’s quality criteria, which O’Connell defines as market-moving stories that both entertain and inform, and which support the paper’s aspirations to the highest standards of business journalism, as exemplified by Forbes and BusinessWeek.