Online Newspaper Charges

1 05 2009

One of the news stories of late that has really caught my attention (and incensed me) is the notion that the online versions of newspapers need to charge for access to content.

There’s a fantastic article here that destroys the argument that charges would cover the cost of lost advertising revenue:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2009/04/paying-for-online-news-sorry-but-the-math-just-doesnt-work/

But on top of that, I just read this comment in an article on Reuters:

“If that happens someone else will find a way to provide that news for free,” said Jonathan Marcus, a former editor of Boston Magazine who teaches journalism at Boston College.

“Once a newspaper begins to charge for content, people will begin to read another newspaper. And once all the newspapers begin to charge for content, someone else will find a way to furnish content for free.”

The beauty (or sometimes curse) of the Internet is that there’s always someone else out there willing to either improve upon an existing idea or offer up something completely novel. And the sad fact is that the newspapers and their decision makers seem oblivious to this aphorism.

So, I say go ahead newspapers. Charge for your stupid sites. See what happens. And while you’re at it, bang your heads against a wall for a few days – maybe that will generate an idea or two. It certainly can’t make you dumber…

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