PERSPECTIVE: Don’t be fooled by the dot bomb hype

When I tell people that I’m moving from a good job on an ever improving Sunday newspaper to set up a website, there are two common reactions: ’have you been sacked?’ and ’congratulations’, although the latter is always delivered with a ’have you been sacked?’ intonation.

When I tell people that I’m moving from a good job on an ever

improving Sunday newspaper to set up a website, there are two common

reactions: ’have you been sacked?’ and ’congratulations’, although the

latter is always delivered with a ’have you been sacked?’

intonation.



But despite the prevailing climate of ’dot bombs’ there are some

underlying assumptions about the internet that have not changed.



One is that for delivering high-quality content to targeted communities,

it beats the hell out of printing words on paper. Your fixed costs of

wood pulp, ink, men in vans, cut to wholesalers/retailers are replaced

by a much more modest cost structure. The internet is not a passing fad,

although the trend for investing millions of venture capital pounds in

it maybe. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that it will still

spawn a number of highly successful products and businesses as it

matures.



From the moment we started discussing setting up a Guardian Media

website, it became clear that it would be an exciting area for Guardian

Newspapers to develop.



First, if you are a media professional, and you probably are, a) you

will almost certainly have an internet connection on your desk and b)

you may have noticed that while there are many excellent ’niche’ media

websites cropping up, there is no generic, daily news-driven site that

covers what is, after all, a rapidly converging industry where

information and analysis is very strong currency.



This is why, despite the sound of ’content sites’ such as bullet.com and

Net Imperative crashing round my ears, I’m still confident that setting

up an ambitious project like this one even now is absolutely the right

thing to do.



The Guardian online media project has not got the immediate problem of

establishing a brand or credibility, and the fact that we can

cross-fertilise between print and the web is crucial. Established

publishers have an almost indecent advantage when it comes to developing

an online content presence.



The fact that we are funded from within the company is also a source of

relief. I meet a lot of merchant bankers and I wouldn’t want to rely on

their commitment and faith for a steady flow of funds. Most of them have

reacted to the internet shakeout with all the cool and aplomb of

Corporal Jones: the louder they shout ’don’t panic’ the quicker the dash

for the air-raid shelter.



Call me cavalier, but I haven’t even packed a tin hat.



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