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I'm a journalist, ex-national papers, now working in what we call "new" media.

The Times is following the Guardian and beginning to publish stories online before they appear in the paper. This is a big move for papers which have always regarded their internet operations as inherently secondary to their print editions (unlike sites like AOL, Yahoo! and BBC online, which publish what they get as son as they get it.
In part papers want to protect their commercial interests (their papers are more lucrative than their websites). But also (as I argued in a speech at Newswatch06 last week), papers are psychologically and organisationally in thrall to the production of a canonical print edition that is out of date as soon as it is consumed.
So fair play to the Guardian and the Times. But before we get too excited, observe that the stories they will put online first come from their foreign (and, in the Guardian's case, business) correspondents. Home news, features, columnists, leaders etc will be preserved for the printe edition, so there's still some way to go. Nonetheless, an experiment worth watching.
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More accurately what is the licence fee for? There is disquiet about its latest scheme, which is to launch a politics and news weekly magazine that would clearly compete with existing titles such as Newsweek, The Spectator etc.

The BBC has used the licence fee to set up one of Europe's dominant internet sites; it has a string of lifestyle magazines and now it seems set to go into news publishing. The BBC seems to have no sense of the damage it is causing to the commercial sector or of what might be the appropriate limit to its ambition. Supposing the BBC were to set up a national daily newspaper? Would that be considered OK? And suppose it were to deliver it free of charge into every home in the country? Should it be allowed to do so, regardless of the effect on other publishers? That, effectively, is what it has done in the online news sector.
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