Charging for Newspaper On-line Content

Newspaper Editors from all the major corporate players and individual papers are meeting in Chicago today to discuss ways of making money off of their product’s internet content.

I wonder why they have waited this long?

See this Atlantic article for more details.


Filed under New Technology, newspapers, The Economy

10 responses to “Charging for Newspaper On-line Content

  1. David B

    Pay to read won’t work.

    The New York Times withheld the articles for their top columnists, as well as other features from those who did not pay for a premium membership.

    The Times abandoned the initiative after a year or so…

    I think the web has so democratized (socialized??) text, that getting folks to pay to read will never work.

  2. I do remember the New York Times experiment and think they mostly tried to charge for editorial writers’ work.

    What I don’t know: how does one stay in business making a pretty expensive product that you then give away? I am also one of those idealistic people that think newspapers serve an important role in democracies.

    Newspapers went wrong when they got too corporate and investors were demanding profit margins over 20 %. Many a family made a good living operating with a 15% and even lesser margin.

    If I understood the Atlantic article, I think they are all meeting in Chicago today to band together and fight the anticipated storm of protest that will ensue when they start charging.

    While I don’t look forward to paying, I am not sure an acceptable alternative exists. My humble opinion only.

  3. jammer5

    There are many news blogs out there that charging for the mainstream papers may prove to be not a good move.

  4. They’ll need to distinguish themselves to stay alive whether they charge or not. How will they do that? I don’t know the answer, but their survival will be in that tactic, not in charging.

    PrairiePond tells us her tiny paper gives readers ‘chicken dinner’ news and they aren’t struggling, but remember it’s a weekly and no one expects timely news from beyond the community.

    Newspapers provided more in-depth coverage than television or radio not long ago, but now we have 24-hour news channels on both so they have to go in-depth to fill those hours.

    If all the American newspapers agree to a plan, decide to charge, I’ll read news online at BBC, Reuters, NPR, CNN, MSNBC… I already pay a lot for their coverage!

  5. “Newspapers provided more in-depth coverage than television or radio not long ago, but now we have 24-hour news channels on both so they have to go in-depth to fill those hours.”

    That is another important market change. Can newspapers retain that “deepness advantage”? I think they can. I recall that not long ago, what the Eagle reported on greatly controlled what was reported on local TV news – that is still true to some extent.

    Newspapers need to find their way. I hope that happens soon.

  6. Zippy

    As the son of a newspaperman, so do I, Iggy.

  7. Zippy

    The problems with “news blogs” is that someone has to gather the news. Blogs are good are digging up what’s already out there, but few–if any–have paid reporters who actually go out and engage in the expen$ive and time-consuming process of finding out what the hell is going on.

    I would have zero sympathy for newspapers (background notwithstanding) if it was solely based on their really clueless approach to the new technologies. But part of that was due to media consolidation (thank you, Telecommunications Act of 1996), which produce an environment where most newspapers found themselves owned (and increasingly at the mercy of) large media corporations. Such lumbering giants, contrary to what you would think, tend to be behind the curve when it comes to technology–change is sooo expen$ive!

    Even those are who much-belatedly adapting really aren’t–the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s online ghost is little more than vanity–a rotting corpse of what it once was (at least from what I know).

    But Huffington Post doesn’t have reporters. They do opinion, not journalism.

    And this exchange from Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow)’s website nicely sums it up (yeah, I know, that’s a surprise! 🙂 ):

    Reposted verbatim from the site (hope that’s okay, Dan and Colin):


    In response to the post below:

    I disagree. You’re on the wrong side of history, and you can starve in a gutter alongside Walter Isaacson.

    There is little to no -news- on the news, a point your latest comic completely fails to address.

    If I want the truth about Iraq, I read Glenn Greenwald.

    Henceforth, you won’t be allowed to sell my eyeballs to Salon or anyone else. For what little it is worth, I won’t link, I won’t mention you to friends, and I certainly won’t read your posts or comics.

    After deliberately misinforming the American public about Iraq, the MSM deserves a fiery death.

    Hell, we’d be better off with Pradva. At least they had the excuse of someone holding a gun to their collective heads.


    Brian D———, ex-reader.


    (Leaving aside the fact that you certainly won’t see this post, since I’m now dead to you … )

    It sounds like you might have a blog. Glenn Greenwald has a blog. I have a blog. We have blogs!

    This is a fine thing. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

    But while there’s plenty to be learned from Glenn Greenwald’s always-insightful analysis (and perhaps somewhat less so from my various ramblings), can readers turn to any of our blogs this morning and learn about Obama’s secret letter to Russia, the future regulation of Fannie and Freddie, the attack on a Sri Lankan cricket team by gunmen in Pakistan, the memos detailing the power the Bush administration sought, the grassroots uprising against a dam in Japan, the release of a human rights activist in Zimbabwe, the news that Fidel Castro has been spotted taking early morning strolls in Havana, the fact that one in every 31 adults in this country is entangled in the prison system in some way, the specifics of the California joblessness rate, or the impediments facing women in Afghanistan — to name just a few of the stories in today’s New York Times? (And that’s before we even get into weather, sports, the business pages and the arts section.)

    No they cannot. At least, not until we start writing about these things because we have read about them in the New York Times, or seen them on CNN, or heard them on NPR or the local AM drive time affiliate, or wherever it is we get the news that we do not go out into the world and gather ourselves.

    Please don’t misunderstand. I have been critiquing the mainstream media for a very long time. The epic failure of what passed for “journalism” during the runup to war in 2002 and 2003 was a frequent topic of my cartoon and on this blog. If my latest cartoon fails to drive this point home to your satisfaction, it’s only because I’ve made the point so many times, I assume it’s a given. The entirety of my belief system cannot be restated in every cartoon, at least not until the three-dimensional fully networked hotlinkable meta cartoons of the future become commonplace.

    But this is the point, and I am entirely certain Glenn Greenwald would agree: criticizing someone for doing an important job badly does not mean you wish that no one was doing the job at all.

    We criticize journalists because we want them to do a better job, not because we want to see their profession eliminated entirely.

    That’s what right-wingers want. That’s how right-wingers want to live, in an information-free zone in which facts are supplanted entirely by opinion, in which there’s no need to hear from a reporter on the ground in Fallujah as long as Rush Limbaugh has an opinion on the topic. But it’s not how I want to live.

    Update: Glenn Greenwald adds via email:

    I agree with you entirely, as you predicted: the problem with the establishment media isn’t that they’re trying to perform a function that shouldn’t be performed (that’s the Right’s critique of the press, actually). The problem is that they perform that function so ineptly and corruptly — or often not at all — and thus it goes unfulfilled.

    The point of media criticisms is not to kill off the media, but to make them better.

    posted by Tom Tomorrow at 8:14 AM | link

  8. Zippy

    This is an all-too-relevant exchange:

  9. Sorry, Zippy! You made that long informative speech and it contained one too many ‘links.’ WordPress suggested too many links in a post is often spam (and we’ve found that to be true!). But your great post was rescued and retrieved from the spam box! Wish we had a setting for allowing from approved posters, but the only control that can be set is the number of links.

    So, we catch those we don’t want to affect while protecting against those we want to catch. 😦

  10. Zippy

    Fnord, thanks for your kind words, but most of the credit for that post really goes to Dan Perkins. 🙂