The word is now in, Nikkei is the buyer, but Pearson is keeping The Economist.
I find the Financial Times works well as a purely digital product, and of the major newspapers it is the one I can most easily imagine reading digital only. From a newspaper I care not only about the amount of absolute content, but also the sense that I haven’t “missed anything.” Often I find this feeling of completeness hard to get from digital editions, even when they are fairly well done. There is too much content, with too many overlapping categories, to organize everything neatly. There is a new set of stories up before I am sure I really have culled through the old. The FT runs fewer stories, has fewer sections and content areas, and the wonderful Saturday edition has a relatively transparent structure which I can navigate on-line.
Would it be so terrible for other newspapers to concentrate their arts and leisure coverage, or their book reviews, on one or two days of the week? Digitalization might eventually bring that about, for greater ease of navigation. In the digital world, “less content” seems less miserly, because a universe of alternative content is at your fingertips in any case.
One equilibrium is that more newspapers copy the FT in their greater focus. Another equilibrium is that only the FT goes digital only. A third option is that the home page dies altogether, even for major newspapers, and this difference between the FT and other papers ceases to matter altogether.
Addendum: Here is Peter Thai Larsen: “In 1987 Pearson sold the FT’s building to a Japanese buyer and kept the paper. Now it’s selling the paper and keeping the building. Discuss.”