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Newspaper Execs Hold Secret Meeting To Discuss Paywalls

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the shhh-it's-a-secret dept.

The Media 390

Techdirt got wind of a secret meeting by newspaper execs, complete with antitrust lawyers, to discuss how to proceed on the issue of implementing paywalls going forward. Of course, if newspapers decide to all lock away their content that just means the rest of us will have a bunch of great journalism talent to pick from soon thereafter. "You may have noticed a bunch of stories recently about how newspapers should get an antitrust exemption to allow them to collude -- working together to all put in place a paywall at the same time. That hasn't gone anywhere, so apparently the newspapers decided to just go ahead and try to get together quietly themselves without letting anyone know. But, of course, you don't get a bunch of newspaper execs together without someone either noticing or leaking the news... so it got out. And then the newspapers admitted it with a carefully worded statement about how they got together 'to discuss how best to support and preserve the traditions of news gathering that will serve the American public.' And, yes, they apparently had an antitrust lawyer or two involved."

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One idea... (4, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140721)

We all know paywalls won't work. However, the alternative is worse: if newspapers don't find a way to make money online soon, they'll start seriously blending advertising inside news content. I don't want that to happen!

One idea, based on what I have seen work abroad, is to mandate, for a limited time, a fee of $1 on all Internet connections. You could then use that monthly credit to subscribe to whatever content you chose. That would inject millions in the content economy. If what you want is free music, use your credit for that. If you want to read the New York Times, fine.

After a few years, phase out the fee (hum...). By then, people should have gotten used to it and you get a smooth transition to people using micro-payments for content. Any better ideas?

--
FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- fair jobs for iPhone developers and graphic designers

Re:One idea... (4, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140825)

How about letting the crap... I mean content... no, I guess I do mean crap stand on its own feet? If it is worth paying for someone will pay for it. While I support the idea of journalistic integrity (whatever that is) it is long gone in this country. Hunter S. Thompson had it right in "Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail" when he said - paraphrasing - that the only objective reporting is the traffic camera on a street corner. In other words, the newspaper/TV/whatever journalism business, yes BUSINESS, got itself into this mess. Screw 'em. I'd trust a pamphleteer over any of the sacred cow rags that are mentioned in the TFA.

One idea, based on what I have seen work abroad, is to mandate, for a limited time, a fee of $1 on all Internet connections. You could then use that monthly credit to subscribe to whatever content you chose. That would inject millions in the content economy. If what you want is free music, use your credit for that. If you want to read the New York Times, fine.

After a few years, phase out the fee (hum...). By then, people should have gotten used to it and you get a smooth transition to people using micro-payments for content. Any better ideas?

-- FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- fair jobs for iPhone developers and graphic designers

Re:One idea... (5, Interesting)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141001)

The problem is that recent history demonstrates one thing: People will gladly accept free crap of virtually no journalistic value over cheap crap that at least has a much higher value.

In the tech field, there is plenty of good free online journalism. Their expenses are relatively small, and are easily supported by advertising. Outside of the tech field, things get more costly due to scope - and the free alternatives either lean heavily on "pro" material (one of the news industries biggest complaints) or else just feed us trash worth about as much as what you get out of any scandal rag.

On the other hand, the previous guy's idea of forcing everyone to pay for some content is extremely distasteful. I think it would be much better to enforce some basic rules on content re-appropriation. While I love getting well-written news for free online, it's also one of the main reasons the people who write that news are going out of business - they don't get paid, and no one sees the ads that would normally fund them (because they're looking at the ads that fund the site that ripped off the content).

Attribution is fine, but in this case I think the newspapers are within their right to cooperate on this matter, because it's not price fixing if there are still going to be many free alternatives.

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141007)

If it is worth paying for someone will pay for it.

Someone isn't enough...and if you can get it all for free, most people will not pay for it at all even if the content is good enough. If anything, having excellent content just means people get it from you even more.

Re:One idea... (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141499)

You can't get news of comparable quality to The Economist for free. I haven't taken the plunge and bought it yet, but that's only because I'm freshly out of college and looking for work. When I get a proper job, that's one of the first things I'm getting. (It was a new computer, but my parents offered to pay for one as a graduation present.)

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141017)

Screw 'em. I'd trust a pamphleteer over any of the sacred cow rags that are mentioned in the TFA.

'Pamphleteers,' by whom I presume you mean bloggers, are not journalists. Bloggers just cherry pick other peoples' hard work and add a few opinionated comments of their own to it. Journalists are professional people who do research and go through an editorial process before they get published. They are held accountable. Society needs this. It costs money. The money has to come from somewhere. The free news business model has been tried, and kudos to the newspapers for giving it their best shot, but it simply does not work. Screw em? No. Let's not 'screw em.' We need someone to uncover the next Watergate. We need someone to keep an eye on the war profiteers who charge $20 per washing machine load of laundry. We need someone to keep tabs on the polluters and bring it to the public's attention. If it means an exemption to anti-trust laws (that were written before newspapers ended up in this situation) then so be it. A professional news media is too important to be left to die.

Re:One idea... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141171)

Newspapers dying is not the same thing as professional news media dying. Not all internet journalism must be blogging. Not all internet journalism need be ad-supported. There are many flaws with your response.

Re:One idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141281)

I wouldn't call journalism a profession. It's more of a craft or trade really.

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141405)

Journalists are professional people who do research and go through an editorial process before they get published. They are held accountable.

Provided you define "do research" to mean "Maybe check google for a couple seconds", "editorial process" to mean "Check whether this will boost ratings/readership", and "held accountable" to mean "Issue a 1 line or 2 second correction a week after the fact when we make an error so we can't get sued over it no matter how badly we fucked up".

Journalism from the major corporations ended a long time ago in favour of increased profits.

Re:One idea... (4, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141435)

Journalists are professional people who do research and go through an editorial process before they get published.

What do people like that have to do with newspapers?

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141493)

Someone should mod this 'funny'. If these journalists are so professional and accountable and so on, where are they on covering the ACORN government-sponsored partisan politics? Hello, that's brazenly illegal. Where are they on the rest of the crap going on in Washington? Who did the research on the 60 Minutes fake letters? Who's doing the research on the bailouts, the billions of money being unaccountedly funnelled to political cronies of the administration?

No, bloggers arose because the Mainstream Media, including the newspapers, didn't do the job they claimed they were doing. They want their big money and perks, but they don't want to have to work for it. Arrogant incompetence, once again.

Bloggers are doing the research today. It's the Journalists who are cherry-picking other people's hard work. The big newspapers deserve to die.

Re:One idea... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141335)

Please don't top post.

Re:One idea... (1)

isomer1 (749303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141395)

If it is worth paying for someone will pay for it.

That assumption is the fundamental flaw in the whole free market / libertarian mindset. It is the "magic" upon which you (not you in particular op) keep basing arguments and which does not match reality.

Re:One idea... (1, Informative)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141573)

If individuals want a service or item, they'll pay for it. If they don't, they won't. That's what "worth paying for" means. They'll also determine the cost/benefit ratio for their individual tastes. Many people subscribe to cable/FIOS/Dish whatever for content because they've determined the cost is worth it, while many others choose to do without or just use over the air broadcasts. Everybody gets to choose for themselves whether something is worth it without imposing Yet Another Tax (or fee or whatever they want to call it) to prop up Yet Another Failed Business Model.

Re:One idea... (2, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141475)

For one, your "pamphleteers" probably get their sources from your "cow rags." See very few bloggers and other small news and commentary outlets have the funds and ability to get reporters where reporters need to be, and while there is a lot of fluff there are also a lot of places where reporters really do need to be.

For two, no, people are not going to pay for something just because that something could be worth paying for. Online so far they can get it for free and from other outlets where oftentimes the original source of the story is masked by the source or by the simple derth of caring by the consumer. These outlets often seem "better" to the consumer giving articles that are more opinionated, seem more trustworthy, and by giving fuller arguments over the story. The problem is that while sometimes a fuller argument can be made often news simply has to be reported as it is.

Re:One idea... (2, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141549)

Quit going for ratings and produce real journalism, and it will be worth paying for. The crap will get sifted out. But there's very few sources left for that.

Any "newspaper" with cover stories or front-page news on entertainment or celebrity should be disqualified. I hope they all die and have to start over, because I can't get real news from news outlets. I know who won American Idol, but I don't want to know it. I intentionally tried to avoid learning this, but I had no choice.

It's called a "newspaper". Put news in it. Another celebrity blah blah blah something, that isn't new, that's old news with a different famous person.

Captcha: circus. How appropriate.

Re:One idea... (4, Insightful)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140853)

One idea, based on what I have seen work abroad, is to mandate, for a limited time, a fee of $1 on all Internet connections.

How about.... No. Since you're so free with everybody's money how about you give up your entire paycheck to them, ya know for just a limited time of a couple of decades... naw that won't work since you'll already be use to giving everything up, you'll mind as well just continue to pay til the day you die. Since after all til death is still a limited amount of time, right?

Besides we don't need yet another credit system since we already have enough and absolutely have zero cause to have another.

Re:One idea... (5, Informative)

Enuratique (993250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140867)

After a few years, phase out the fee (hum...).

I present to you the Federal Telephone Excise Tax [taxfoundation.org] . Once a tax or fee is on the books it will be next to impossible to remove it - it will just be repurposed. What really grinds my gears is the Cost Recovery Fee charged each month to support the number portability act. That was is, what, 2004? Let's do the math: 5 years * 100 million cell phone subscribers * 12 months in a year * $1.25 per month = $7.5 billion in cost recovery monies. You really think it cost the cell phone industry that much money to support number portability? My professional wild assed guess is that it cost the industry 1 billion to implement and maybe 1 million a year to maintain/support. The rest of that is pure profit; pure profit I don't see going away any time soon. Now, if the government mandated they use that money to forcibly upgrade their network.

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141111)

Now, if the government mandated they use that money to forcibly upgrade their network.

It would go about as well as the money Congress gave telcos in the 90's to give everyone fast, cheap broadband service.

Re:One idea... (2, Funny)

edlinfan (1131341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140973)

Don't give them any ideas!

Re:One idea... (2, Interesting)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141075)

While I agree that big business has become all too big in my wonderful country the USA; I disagree with all these socialist concepts and ideals. I don't want/need to pay more in taxes so you can have something you think you need for free. I think journalism is a valid profession, and I believe people working in their professions deserve fair compensation.

I think a more profitable (and completely non-socialist, yay!) idea would be to encrypt the content and charge people for a one-time-key. Combine this with two separate versions of the content: one free one riddled with many annoying ads and pop-ups, and the paid encrypted one sans the ads/pop-ups.

Re:One idea... (1)

Heywood J. Blaume (858386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141233)

That's called DRM, and it's been tried, found to be an expensive boondoggle that pushes customers away, and is currently on the way out.

Re:One idea... (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141627)

You've obviously never worked in the financial industry where we use one-time RSA keys every single day.

I've never heard of any DRM that is one-time. Most DRM I know if is "dial-home" DRM that must be authenticated on a per-use basis. I don't own an iPod so I'm not sure how the music DRM is, but many video games use the dial-home style DRM. One-time keys are quite different, perhaps you should read up on them.

On a side note, people tend to throw the term DRM around. Sometimes (like now) I think that word does not mean what they think it means. What is the difference between user authentication on a private site, and a public site with an encrypted message that requires foreknowledge of a passphrase? Something? Nothing? I'm being very serious with these questions.

Re:One idea... (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141105)

> if newspapers don't find a way to make money online soon, they'll start seriously blending advertising inside news content.

Teen wearing Nike Shocks and Abercrombie & Fitch jacket steals 2010 Toyota Corolla and rams it into Wal Mart.

Granny calls 911 from her new Nokia Xpress Music phone with an affordable AT&T plan, reports missing LG 52" Plasma TV bought at Best Buy.

Re:One idea... (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141113)

I think you're on the right track with a low monthly fee, but I'd rather see a micro-payment system from the start. Set the per-item fees so low (a penny or less) that few would complain, because it would only add up to maybe a dollar or so per month for most web users. Of course it would have to be secure (e.g.: an article can't say it's $.05, then charge you $5) and easy for everyone to use. Legal issues aside, I think the newspapers might be able set something up by partnering with ISPs, so that the software can be installed at the ISP level, with no user downloads/plug-ins needed. Offer the ISPs half the income, and they might go for it.

I realize there are many problems: privacy, foreign readers, etc. But wouldn't it be nice if there was a simple, easy, widespread way to pay a tiny amount of money for something online? Think of all the writers, artists, musicians, coders, etc. who could benefit. PayPal is too cumbersome and not fine-grained enough. Would you pay a penny for a blog post that made you laugh out loud? Or to hear one song by an unknown band you think you might like? I would. Multiply that by tens of thousands of web users, and those folks are making a living.

Of course, the newspapers will probably see this as too penny-ante, be too impatient to start something small and make it grow, and want $$/month subscriptions, which just won't work for most of them.

Re:One idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141239)

Fuck. That. Shit.

Re:One idea... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141371)

How about just letting them die if they can't sustain their business? Newspapers' main revenue came from classified ads and other advertising revenue. A lot of local town rags are given away for free and have some light local reporting as an excuse to distribute the advertising. Craig's List and the internet job boards took the classified revenue away and advertisers started to see more bang for their buck elsewhere.

If newspapers can't compete for the audience the advertisers aren't going to stick around. People are already leaving in droves, so it's not likely that many will pay for a subscription for something they'd pretty much stopped reading anyway. The Rocky Mountain news attempt at this failed miserably. Reporters will still find venues to report in and the guys with the eyeballs who aren't having a problem with ad revenue will continue to support them. This may result in more biased reporting, but that's what people want anyway -- or do you think Fox News' and Rush Limbaugh's success is a fluke? The left wing nuts will just go to the Huffington Post blog and the right wing nuts will go to the Fox News web page.

Re:One idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141399)

I like the free advertising that's been added as a signature line... Of course a iPhone dev would want everyone to get used to paying for every piece of crap that gets presented to the web...

Why does FairSoftware sound like a Ponzi scheme?

Re:One idea... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141457)

I wouldn't even pay $1 for what crap most press sites have up. The majority of the stuff I see is either cooing about the new iWhatzit (Macrumors and other dedicated Apple sites do a FAR better job than the blurbs that a lot of papers use as filler), more celeb news, anti-US propaganda, alarmist reads, garbage citing "anonymous sources" so the reporter can pretty much skirt on the edge of libel, and just plain yellow journalism.

Local newspapers who don't pay for journalists to do the legwork to for scoops on events are facing irrelevancy. Papers who don't get this concept end up in a death spiral of buying more and more wire articles, and their customers end up not bothering with the paper because those articles can be found on the Net. If a big paper in a town goes under, its just Darwin in action. There will always be some startup that can provide the journalism that people demand that can take its place.

So, let the news sites paywall themselves into bankruptcy. Someone will more than happily replace them and be able to have a company thrive by existing ad revenue. In fact, if a news site is decent, they get higher paying advertisers so its a win/win for both sides.

Paywalling might have made sense in a better economy, but when people are more worried about putting a roof over their head and keeping food on the table, charging cash for articles is a very dumb move.

Re:One idea... (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141483)

Yes, how about you don't tax the internet and let obsolete business model die?

counter idea... (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141609)

One idea, based on what I have seen work abroad, is to mandate, for a limited time, a fee of $1 on all Internet connections. You could then use that monthly credit to subscribe to whatever content you chose.

OK, then I'll start my own online "newspaper" (with a paywall if necessary) and send my monthly credit to myself. The content of my "newspaper" will simply inform my readers how they can setup their own "newspaper" and do the same. The more you try to forcibly take my money, the harder I will fight to make sure you get absolutely nothing from me (even if it ends up costing me more money).

Last to Act Wins? (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140729)

*ring ring*
NY Times Editor: Marcus? Hi, it's Bill Keller from the New York Times and since we're all in agreement that today we put our paywalls, I just wanted to call you up and thank you again.
Washington Post Editor: Oh yeah, Bill, we gotta do this--I mean, we just can't sustain without this revenue *snicker*.
NY Times Editor: Alright well, I'm calling because it's 10am now EST and we had all agreed that at midnight EST our papers would switch over to paywalls.
Washington Post Editor: Yep. That's right. *snort*
NY Times Editor: Yeah, well, your paper is still accessible without a paywall.
Washington Post Editor: What? Oh, man, hah, must be a bug. I'll get right on that!
*click*
Two hours later.
*ring ring*
NY Times Editor: Yeah, Marcus? It's Bill from the New York Times again, it's noon, still seeing a paywall on your site, what's up?
Washington Post Editor: Oh yeah, it's a bad bug, we can't figure it out--might take weeks. *laughing in background*
NY Times Editor: Really? Well, we haven't had a single person sign up for our paywall and I'm looking at an ad online right now that says, "Washington Post: Because Information Wants to be Free." And, uh, I also am reading some comments on blogs about only idiots will ever use the New York Times from this point on. Am I on speaker phone?
Washington Post Editor: Bill, it's time I came clean. In the newspaper business, there are sheep and there are sharks ...

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28140813)

still seeing a paywall on your site, what's up

Should be:

still not seeing a paywall on your site, what's up

Re:Last to Act Wins? (1)

BBTaeKwonDo (1540945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141005)

I think you're right and that the people in the meeting slept through the lectures on game theory in b-school. But there's also a chance that there really is no incentive to operate without a paywall (when was this coined?), if they would make insufficient ad revenue regardless of the size of the readership.

Also, I'm not sure that having anti-trust lawyers in the room is going to do much. Yes, it will allow you to claim attorney-client privilege so you can't get called to testify on what was said in the meeting. But if you're planning illegal activities in the meeting, the lawyers can get disbarred (I don't think happens very often), and if you're not planning illegal activities, then why meet in secret? What I don't know is whether a person who doesn't have *his* attorney present can get called to testify about the meeting. If so, and if there is such a person, then they're all up the creek.

IANAL, but I have an MBA.

Re:Last to Act Wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141383)

if you're not planning illegal activities, then why meet in secret?

To keep your plans... you know... secret.

"If you've got nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" is a fallacy. In the real world there are plenty of legal and legitimate reasons to keep secrets. In this case, they may desire secrecy for strategic planning purposes, to avoid public confusion until they've made firm decisions, to foster an environment where participants can speak freely, etc.

It's of course possible that they were talking about plans that border on the illegal. But secrecy alone is not proof of anything.

Re:Last to Act Wins? (4, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141417)

I think the point of having the lawyers there (or mentioning it) is to say that what they're planning may be very borderline. They've got the lawyers there to advise against getting nailed for antitrust- but it clearly means they're bouncing ideas that could be on the other side of that line...

In other words, it means their intentions are definitely not pure.

Re:Last to Act Wins? (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141387)

Newspaper Exec 1: Gad, our paywall sucks.

Newspaper Exec 2: No! Ours sucks ASS!

Indie Newspaper Publisher: I think you guys are on the right track. (Heh heh heh.)

Good information isn't free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28140759)

I'd be happy to pay for a newspaper, an online one even. The alternative is nobody doing investigative reporting (you really think bloggers are going to pick up that slack? I doubt it).

Would have been nice to see the papers actually cover the run up to the Iraq war, or all the insane voter suppression tactics from 2004, but I guess we can't have a functioning democracy AND access to information at the same time.

It's amazing how low corporate execs will stoop... (3, Funny)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140773)

... to try to save a dying business model.

The reporters can always get day jobs and keep their writing game up at wikinews [wikinews.org] .

Re:It's amazing how low corporate execs will stoop (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140869)

It's amazing how low corporate execs will stoop to try to save a dying business model.

"Charging for stuff" is not "a" business model, it's business. What's not a business model is giving free rides. Something's gotta give.

Re:It's amazing how low corporate execs will stoop (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140873)

to be fair, I'm not convinced that 'day jobs' will let reporters REALLY do research.

problem is, almost no local paper does research anymore and its only the 'biggies' that can afford it. the biggies are also the ones we cannot trust as they are too much in bed with the subject they are trying to do research on! its a big mess.

smaller independants are more trustable but their budgets are down to near zero now. so where do we get IN DEPTH stories from?

answer: we don't. the gov will soon control the data flow and news flow (in our lifetimes, we'll see this).

we are witnessing a change in info flow but its not all good, folks.

Re:It's amazing how low corporate execs will stoop (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140929)

we are witnessing a change in info flow but its not all good, folks.

Blame it on the greed and entitlement attitude of the average person. They want it all but don't want to pay for it. As a result, control falls to the organizations with a big enough hand to survive via other means.

As for the GP, you're an idiot. A journalist that can't focus on the subject at hand is worthless.

Been there. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140787)

"You may have noticed a bunch of stories recently about how newspapers should get an antitrust exemption to allow them to collude."

I seem to remember something called LexisNexis. No? Ok.

Re:Been there. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140823)

Left out the important part, open it up and pull an ESPN. Done.

Re:Been there. (1)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141595)

You really have no idea what you're talking about, do you? LexisNexis is a news aggregator and the anti-trust implications of licensing your stories to a research tool like Lexis is entirely different then companies colluding amongst themselves to set prices. Sorry.

Micropayments (1)

Simon Carr (1788) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140791)

see subj.

So how much easier would a more mature micropayment system make almost every information transaction? Hell, at this point Second Life Lindens are starting to look like a good currency for this type of thing.

Re:Micropayments (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140837)

this would also SOLVE the music 'crisis' in that we can make MP's for song downloads. songs are worth pennies and NOT dollars.

even the cheapest of us here would pay pennies for songs. MP is the solution.

until then, tpb it is.

Re:Micropayments (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141581)

I already pay pennies for my songs, granted I'm into the more semi-fringe stuff that isn't really found on the torrent sites(yes those places moo just as much as any corporate cow). On average I pay about 20c and rarely will I go to 60c.

Re:Micropayments (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140971)

What is the exact barrier to micropayments? Is it the credit card companies? The whole concept is so logical and would solve so many problems, so what is preventing it from being implemented?

Re:Micropayments (1)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141277)

Inherent transaction costs outweigh the value delivered.

This problem cannot be solved by technology. Sure, you can make a system that reduces the seller's transaction costs to near zero, but all this work has completely ignored the buyer's transaction costs. With micropayments, you're asking your customers to spend more time managing their micro-account than the product you're selling is worth.

Suppose I have a micropayment account which charges to my credit card each month. I read all the articles I want because, hey, it's only a few cents. One of these days I'm going to look at my statement and the total for that month will be over $100 -- more than I intended to spend.

On that day I'm going to have to dig into all my 5-cent charges to figure out what I did wrong. I'll have to figure out how to manage my charges, how to control my use of this content. This is not my job! The day's news is supposed to be bundled up for me, in a good mix with about the right amount of stuff, for a reasonable price that I can understand. I have a brain in my head, not a calculator; I'm not equipped to add up nickels into dollars.

Micropayments are not good for the customers, and unsurprisingly, people have not been willing to pay them.

Re:Micropayments (1)

xmod2 (314264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141519)

Sorry, I do not want to have to wear a fur suit to read the NY Times online.

news (1)

markringen (1501853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140817)

if they stop, i start. people in all the war places can make their own news, and report to us. those papers are stuck in old world thinking, people aren't going to take it.

Re:news (2, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141613)

Yes the man in a small war torn African nation dodges bullets, manages to scrape together a bowl of polluted water and rice and then runs down to his local internet coffee shop to hop online and post to his blog.

Seriously, no, important news does NOT occur obligingly where everyone has an open internet connection and the ability to use it.

Meeting agenda, item 1: (2, Insightful)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140847)

"How can we make ourselves even more irrelevant than we are now?"

Ooh... "secret" meetings? (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140851)

Sounds like a non-story to me. Or does the article submitter imply that whenever companies get together, they should invite the press and make it a fully open meeting?

Yeah, so they want to get paid for their work. Might as well spin this as: "Capitalism 2.0: Your time ain't free".

Re:Ooh... "secret" meetings? (5, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141063)

Err, yes:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public..." - Adam Smith

Re:Ooh... "secret" meetings? (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141181)

When they all get together to talk about "price fixing" and how they can collectively control the market - it might as well be a monopoly. Look up collusion.

Google bot (5, Informative)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140879)

Do you think they will still allow Googlebot to crawl their web pages? If so I see nothing wrong with changing my user agent. Then again for the most part I listen to NPR and read the articles on their website. Support public broadcasting!

Re:Google bot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141015)

I've tried to do that on sites. But most sites use the user agent + ip for their cloaking.

If only google had a service that used googlebot as a proxy agent....

Re:Google bot (4, Insightful)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141287)

Do you think they will still allow Googlebot to crawl their web pages?

The sad thing is that they will probably only allow Googlebot to crawl them, thereby disadvantaging any upstart search engines that might want to compete with Google. As much as I like Google, the fact that they are so big creates a "we only need to worry about Googlebot" mentality among website operators that is similar to "we only need to worry about working with Internet Explorer."

How to save the Newspaper Business (4, Interesting)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140899)

I call it "The Kindle does Cable:"

1. Stop printing news on paper.
2. Give out electronic devices that update automatically and wirelessly
3. Bill the users of those electronic devices a small but non-trivial monthly rate (say, $14.99 with a 2-year subscription)
4. Offer other publishers access to your platform for much larger sums. So a subscription to your paper also includes a subscription to the local sports magazine, dining guide, etc.
5. Work out a deal with Craigslist to deliver local classified ads for free.

Re:How to save the Newspaper Business (2)

CritterUXH (100117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141321)

Once you have a happy DRM'd subscription base, you can fire your good expensive writers and hire on new sellouts who work for either ad-money or next to nothing. The masses won't know the diff, they are paying a monthly fee, and news pops up on their device everyday.

Doesn't matter if its good or not. Its news right? And besides, you own the device, and already have it linked to your bank account in a way that you never even see that monthly transaction happen. Seems almost free.

Such fail (1, Interesting)

Deosyne (92713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140907)

Not for trying to collude in secret with one another, because that's been the status quo of business since some better-than-thou jackass decide that "manager" should be synonymous with "boss" rather than with "secretary." No, this fail because they just illustrated just how irrelevant they've become. I can't get a lick of investigative journalism out of these crusty old outlets other than that spoon-fed to them by their chosen benefactors in government or industry, but I heard about this little gathering of goofballs just fine using these silly Intarwebs.

Why should I pay a bunch of jokers to hunt down sources when those sources are having a grand old time posting everything they see direct to the world, often with full color photos or even video from the convenient little cameras that so many people carry in their pockets these days. Sorry Jimmy Olsen, I know you dream of roaming the streets capturing your Pulitzer, but most of us have found a nifty way to pass information to one another without needing you to play middleman.

News corps have nothing to do with 1st Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28140915)

Just goes to show you that they are in the business of maintenance through limited liability. They only print that which is in their interest or was explicitly granted to them without recourse to any suit that may incur.

Take away the paycheck, take away the maintenance. 1st Amendment is not maintained by the people, it is only acknowledged for the purposes of the debt charters known as the united States of America. Next thing you know, they'll be trying to convince us that the united States of America exists as a single entity titled "The United States" that creates "U.S. States" rather than confederated states of America.

This message brought to you by North Carolina American Republic.

1999 just called (5, Funny)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140927)

They want their failed business model back.

Re:1999 just called (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141103)

They also want their lucrative Y2K contracts back as well....Oh wait, that was me...

They should be adding paywalls (5, Interesting)

electroniceric (468976) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140957)

As enjoyable as it is to bash the newspapers for all of their real flaws, I don't understand how people have come to find paywalls outrageous. I really don't. The difference between newspapers and random hearsay is (in the best cases) a lot of effort in developing broad and balanced sources, fact checking, having an editorial process for some degree of fairness and accuracy (as much as that's suffered in the past decade) and generally putting out a "report" on a subject (that's why we call them reporters). That's a lot of hard, often tedious work that is not going to get done well unless someone is paid to do it. And frankly we should all want to pay for that kind of good content to be made, even when we disagree with it.

It's become trendy to say that bloggers do much of the work of the media and that is simply delusion. First of all, nearly all blog entries (including a large fraction of those on this site) are built around a link of a publication which employs its writers. Bloggers do a great job adding bits, contextualize and bringing together info, but they are most often not the generators of solid base information they work with. So if we really do lose newspapers we are not going to have the People's Republic of Blogistan stand up and replace them with real reporting, we're just going to have gasbaggery in its place.

Now the newspaper industry as a whole needs plenty of creative destruction on top of that. Now that news can freely travel across the country and the world, there's no need for every paper to have Washington bureau and foreign correspondents, and consolidation is much needed there. Likewise the stupid forays of the 90s into "new media" and the debt-fueled expansions also call for some of these business to go under. But that's about restructuring companies and an industry, not replacing paid professionals with everyone's favorite opinion.

My hope is that the newspapers will force the issue on micropayments. I would gladly pay $1, maybe $2 a day for a combination of stories from the Washington Post, NYT, LA Times, my local newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and on occasion some random others that I learned about from some blogger. I absolutely will not pay $20/mo to each of those. So if they can figure out a joint payment scheme that makes sense, I'm all for that. Double bonus points if they can use it to make their archives affordable and not priced for company and institutiional use.

Re:They should be adding paywalls (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141211)

How can you be so deluded about the purpose of a news papers. The purpose of newspapers is to sell advertising. That's it, that's the business model. You need subscribers to do that, but you DON'T need good news stories. Indeed, the last thing you want is subscribers who are adept at analytical reasoning, they're terrible advertising targets. You need to tow the line, not be controversial and get readers of a similar type.

Why do you think that outing things like the Bush-era lies leading up to the Iraq war was widely reported and thoroughly documented in the blogsphere, but missing almost entirely from the mainstream newspapers. Being controversial means advertisers don't want to be associated with your paper.

I don't know that the death of newspapers is a good thing, but the lack of real reporting, that is, reporting facts however unpopular and digging for news stories, has long since stopped being a part of the newspaper world.

Re:They should be adding paywalls (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141533)

The problem with pay walls is that it greatly decreases the value of the content. When something is available and can be freely linked to and talked about by everybody, it is much more valuable than being hidden to most people.

Why are newspapers sacred? Should the tv networks get together and stop broadcasting the nightly news for free? Personally, I think the current generation of newspapers should be allowed to die. Let somebody else come along and buy the assets for pennies on the dollar. If they are smart enough not to take on massive debt, they will likely do quite well.

Telemarketers from the local paper call me once in a while and ask if I would like to get the paper for free. Even for free I don't want it. Why would I want to pay even a micropayment for it? If they can drive a paper out to my house every day for free, why the hell can't they survive from their website?

-ec

Re:They should be adding paywalls (1)

Spyder0101 (1485837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141557)

As enjoyable as it is to bash the newspapers for all of their real flaws, I don't understand how people have come to find paywalls outrageous. I really don't. The difference between newspapers and random hearsay is (in the best cases) a lot of effort in developing broad and balanced sources, fact checking, having an editorial process for some degree of fairness and accuracy (as much as that's suffered in the past decade) and generally putting out a "report" on a subject (that's why we call them reporters). That's a lot of hard, often tedious work that is not going to get done well unless someone is paid to do it. And frankly we should all want to pay for that kind of good content to be made, even when we disagree with it.

What newspapers are you reading. None I've ever seen offer anything close to your "best cases" on even a semi-regular basis.

It's become trendy to say that bloggers do much of the work of the media and that is simply delusion. First of all, nearly all blog entries (including a large fraction of those on this site) are built around a link of a publication which employs its writers. Bloggers do a great job adding bits, contextualize and bringing together info, but they are most often not the generators of solid base information they work with. So if we really do lose newspapers we are not going to have the People's Republic of Blogistan stand up and replace them with real reporting, we're just going to have gasbaggery in its place.

Again, what blogs are you reading? Of course there are a lot that are simply trash. They cost nothing to put up and lets any idiot bask in an imagined sense of self-importance. However, there are some that are simply amazing. Try looking for some and your opinion will change quickly.

...

My hope is that the newspapers will force the issue on micropayments. I would gladly pay $1, maybe $2 a day for a combination of stories from the Washington Post, NYT, LA Times, my local newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and on occasion some random others that I learned about from some blogger. I absolutely will not pay $20/mo to each of those. So if they can figure out a joint payment scheme that makes sense, I'm all for that. Double bonus points if they can use it to make their archives affordable and not priced for company and institutiional use.

MICROPAYMENTS SUCK!!! They are a huge inefficiency (the mental transaction cost) to the process of getting news because before reading each article you need to consider if the article is worth the 5c or whatever the cost is. However, the solution you propose is call a subscription, which is better but only marginally so. Newspapers have never made money selling subscriptions. The cost of a paper barely covers printing and delivery, if even that. Newspapers made money on advertisements, or more specifically, selling their readers attention. I sincerely hope a bunch of papers start charging. When they go bankrupt soon after, it will put this silly debate to rest. If they all do, they will all go bankrupt and then you will see the smart journalists starting blogs (the good kind, not the bads ones you use to soil the word) and make their money that way.

Re:They should be adding paywalls (1)

pz (113803) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141639)

I would gladly pay $1, maybe $2 a day for a combination of stories from the Washington Post, NYT, LA Times, my local newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and on occasion some random others that I learned about from some blogger.

The International Herald Tribune (once independent, now owned by the NYT) was, at one point, precisely that. It still has a far, far higher fraction of editorial content than any other paper I've seen in the US, and I gladly pay the equivalent of USD 3 per day at the news stand to read it. That paper, in one 20-odd page section, has more information and content than almost anything else.

But I'm a luddite when it comes to on-line news. I want my news on paper. In an easy-to-read font. With limited advertising and no animations. If I'm going to pay anything close to that for on-line service without the physical object, then I want no advertising whatsoever. None. Clear presentation without one-click-per-paragraph layouts. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the way the on-line news industry is headed.

Newspapers Barely Compete (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140961)

I don't see how antitrust is necessary in this case. In the dense suburban area I grew up in, there was only one newspaper my family ever considered - the large, liberal, city newspaper. Our neighbors also only considered one newspaper - the local, conservative newspaper. There were only two newspapers that served out region, and everyone knew which they wanted. There was no true competition.

As I understand it, most of the US is like this. I don't know the history of the industry, and I'm sure there was competition at some point, but I can't think of any cities that are served by multiple large newspapers (and no, I don't count the New York Post!). Perhaps the industry already colluded at a regional level, and now they need to do something similar at a national or international level.

Frankly, I think it's a bit dangerous. I come from a city that has a terrible large newspaper (San Diego Tribune), and it sucks that we don't have more choice. If this happened at a national level, the entire print industry would die in one fell swoop. This "paywall" also sounds dangerous. I already get most of my news for free, and I know the demand for paid news has fallen. Perhaps this last ditch effort indicates the industry is already dead.

Yeah but they don't monopolize information! (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141307)

Frankly, I think it's a bit dangerous. I come from a city that has a terrible large newspaper

So does everyone, that's why they are all going out of business. Anyway, people don't see the need for newspapers because there are so many other sources of news. There's radio, tv, the internet. The other thing too is that newspapers are probably far too general in content. If you want news specific to your industry, then there are places you go to get it and those places most certainly charge.

The only reason newspapers have even survived is because they have been a traditional thing more than a useful one for the last 50 years, and they alienated their predominantly conservative customers. It's one thing to have a Philly Inquirer delivered because your grandfather got it, but once they start ripping conservatives all the time, its like why read this crap?

Re:Newspapers Barely Compete (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141381)

There were only two newspapers that served out [sic] region, and everyone knew which they wanted. There was no true competition.

Apparently, you don't know the meaning of the word "competition". There was competition. It was between the large city newspaper and the small local papers. There was not a lot of competition, but there was not enough of a market to support more competition.

The reason there are generally one large are newspaper and a few local papers is because of declining readership because of competition from television and now the internet as well as declining reading time and declining interest in reading.

Oh, and I live in an area with 2 major papers: The Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. Soon there may only be one because of declining revenue and readership. There just aren't enough people reading the paper to support two newspapers.

Re:Newspapers Barely Compete (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141591)

No, that is not real competition. The two types of newspapers serve two different niches. One is about state politics, national and international events, etc. The other is about local (read: county and small town) politics and who's kids got caught vandalizing walls that week. You could read both and have very little overlap.

If two products are not meant to take business away from each other, they aren't truly competing. It's analogous to saying the ford f350 competes with the civic, or Debian and Vista compete.

So What? (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140963)

"...and they had anti-trust lawyers "

So what?

Since when does holding an illegal meeting make it justified simply because lawyers are under advice?

Lots of criminal activity is sanctioned by lawyers even because congress has made it legal to do criminal activity.

Such as allowing the banks to steal every single American citizens tax dollars for the next 5 generations under the guise of "Tarp".

So what this isn't news, its business as usual. I am wondering why they even bothered to do it in secret, nobody cares!

-Hack

redundant (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28140965)

Ever see dozens of reporters trying to ask the same questions? All reporting on the same story with the same facts? 10 microphones redundantly recording what someone says for different news agencies?

There's no need for that duplication of effort. It's surprising the industry has lasted that way for so long.

As for local papers: your classifieds are all going online. Your reprinting of AP stories, sports scores, and stock prices adds no value. Your only real product is the local stories--all 2 pages of them. How much is that worth? Not much.

Re:redundant (5, Insightful)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141245)

Ever see the footage from those ten cameras after ten different network editors have had a go at it?

One source, one series of questions... you'd think it would be one story, right? Wrong. Each network will edit the footage to say what they'd prefer it to say.

Anyone with an S-Band satellite dish who's spent time watching "wild feeds" - network uplinks of raw footage - who's then watched the finished product rolled out on the news a few hours later can confirm this. It's one of the reasons Bob Dole got trashed in the '96 election - media coverage just flat-out favored Clinton.

Drop the number of reporters and cameras down to one and you still have the one source, the one series of questions... but instead of being told the story ten different ways, you're now being fed one single pre-approved opinion.

There's no way that's a good thing.

Go ahead, collude and make our day! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28140991)

This is exactly the kind of bully policies the RIAA, MPAA and other dinosaurs of 20th century industries fail with. They can't adapt so they think locking up the market will solve their woes. This is utterly misguided because then you'll have the smaller journalism organizations who've been kept out of the Big Boys Club coming in to fill the niche and unlike the cruise ships, they've got little overhead to contend with and can thrive off meager internet advertising.

Something has to be done (5, Informative)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141045)

I work for a newspaper company and we are going through this exact thing right now. The newspaper industry has gotten used to seemingly endless financing and now sites like Craigslist and Google are doing a better job at what makes newspapers money.

There is no money in journalism. The money comes from classifieds and sponsorship. Now that people can easily get their news from just about anywhere companies are not as willing to shell out major payments for newspaper ads.

Don't get me wrong, a paywall is a TERRIBLE idea but the news industry isn't cheap and people take it for granted. What other ideas are out there to keep news journalism profitable?

Re:Something has to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141187)

What other ideas are out there to keep news journalism profitable?

Less rags. We don't need yesterday's news, or older, published 20 different times. Time to jump elsewhere my friend, most newspapers are going to be joining horse buggy whips.

It doesn't help that there's a dearth of real journalism these days. When news outlets start reporting on blogs and twitter feeds, you have to wonder where the real journalism is going to come from. Good luck to yourself.

Re:Something has to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141201)

Radio and television? Donation supported media (we have three radio stations that use this model successfully in my area as is)? I'm getting sick of people confusing the media for its content.

Re:Something has to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141527)

now sites like Craigslist and Google are doing a better job at what makes newspapers money

Bingo! In the early days of the Internet, the newspapers could have used their brands and audience to build successful geographically-targeted hubs (e.g. classified ads, online dating, find a restaurant, etc.) but they failed to adapt and ceded all of that turf and mindshare to sites like Craigslist and Match.com. Now, after over a decade of doing pretty much nothing, their big idea is "we'll charge more for the same old thing" (i.e. paywall instead of ads).

Someone still has to gather the news (1, Flamebait)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141101)

that just means the rest of us will have a bunch of great journalism talent to pick from soon thereafter.

"Hi, I'm with dailyblog.com. I hear you used to work for the Global Blabber. I'd love for you to work for us."

"That sounds great. I was one of their best local investigative journalists. How much would you pay?"

"Ummmm, pay? We are a blog. You'd work for fun right?"

*click*

EMBRACE the Craigslist Model (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141137)

One approach appears to be relatively obvious: Use journalistic content to persuade people to come to your Craigslist-style site, rather than the Craigslist-style site that has no journalism.

Value-Added Craigslistism!

Who do they think they are? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141177)

The Banks? Microsoft? The Telcos?

I mean where would they ever get the idea that they could get the Fed to enshrine their business model in regulation and legislation?

Ads pay for the papers (1)

madbavarian (1316065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141183)

Whatever happened to the claim that the ads paid for the hardcopy papers and the cover price was just a token fee to assure the advertisers that the papers weren't likely to just be taken and thrown out unread? If that is true, why would they need to charge anything in order to deliver the paper electronically? Don't the ads more than cover the delivery costs?

Re:Ads pay for the papers (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141251)

the claim that the ads paid for the hardcopy papers and the cover price was just a token fee

Please show where that is claimed.

Print ads pay better than on line ads. However reduced circulation results in lower ad revenue for the print editions.
On-line ads don't make enough to cover the cost of the on-line editions. So, the on-line edition is a money sink for the revenue of the print edition; a revenue source which is shrinking.

Re:Ads pay for the papers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141391)

The classifieds were the golden goose for newspapers, and the internet has killed those.

Adam Smith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141191)

"People of the same trade rarely meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public."

-Adam Smith

There truly is nothing new under the sun.

Picking from who now? (3, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141195)

...if newspapers decide to all lock away their content that just means the rest of us will have a bunch of great journalism talent to pick from soon thereafter.

Yes, because great journalism talent will put their work on the web for free. /sarcasm
Remember, journalists have bills to pay and need to eat just like you. You wouldn't work for free, and neither will they. If they can't make money as journalists, they will get jobs doing something else. Seeing as great journalism is a full time job, there will be a major reduction in the quantity of quality journalism. But, crappy journalism with continue unabated.

Paywalls (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141199)

I'm not sure why we need a term like paywall, but if anyone was wondering it's a subscription-based content delivery business model. I didn't see anyone in the summary or article bother to define it.

The Benefits of Subscription (5, Insightful)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141215)

As an longtime consumer of printed media, I really have no problem paying for a subscription to a daily newspaper and a few magazines on subjects I care about. Back in the day, the primary benefit of a subscription was home delivery ("Never miss an issue!") and a discount off of what it would cost to buy the publication on the street.

So what are the possible benefits now? I can think of a few things that would make subscribing worthwhile:

- Access to articles -- this is the porn/academic journal approach where you can only see the good stuff if you pay. This only works if what you offer is REALLY good and not available elsewhere.

- Freedom from advertising -- I would pay $10/mo to NYTime Company today if they would stop putting animated ads and buttons on their pages.

- Convenient access -- this is the Kindle approach, where your subscription grants you access to well-formatted content from mobile or dedicated devices. This only works if the content is truly well-formatted, which it is often not on the Kindle. This is more or less the iTunes model, too, because you pay a small premium for the tight integration of content and device.

- Affiliation -- this is the public radio approach: you support the station, they send you t-shirts and other crap that allow you to identify in public as a supporter. Commercial media are kind of blind to this, but it has worked really well for some organizations for a long time.

Can a room full of newspaper execs come up with actual reasons why we should subscribe like this? I dunno. I doubt it. I suspect they will put up paywalls, but then continue to show annoying ads, ignore mobile devices, and botch the affiliation angle like they always have. Bankruptcy comes to all dinosaurs sooner or later. If they could learn from Slashdot (which has an *excellent* subscription scheme) they already would have.

Publishers: The free Internet is over (4, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141225)

Rupert Murdoch, speaking out on the news business [today.com] , stated today that "the Internet free access model is clearly malfunctioning, as I don't make enough money from it. We have to educate people that free doesn't work, particularly for us."

Media commentators fear for the future of investigative journalism. "How can we hold governments' feet to the fire without money to pay our great reporters? Where would you get your recycled wire feeds, your Garfield cartoons?" Publishers hold that it is natural for readers to pay what advertisers once did, just as cows have to make up the difference out of their own pockets when the price of milk falls.

Newspapers have suffered badly since the collapse of their previous business model of selling readers to advertisers on a local monopoly basis. The replacement models appear to involve phlogiston, caloric and luminiferous aether.

Publishers have also explored the notion of getting Google to pay its "fair share" for so parasitically leading people to newspapers' websites. The Wikimedia Foundation promptly started billing journalists for their reprints from Wikipedia. "We feel this is completely unfair," said Tom Curley of the Associated Press, "as real news stories spring forth from the heads of accredited reporters in an immaculate creation from nothingness. My preciousss." Maurice Jarre was unavailable for comment.

Re:Publishers: The free Internet is over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141471)

I'm wondering if a comment over two paragraphs is immediately modified "Insightful". I thought it was downright funny. Thanks!

Important to have a news media (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141259)

I actually think the idea of newspapers having a single national registration and payment system that would allow news subscribers to pay once, which would go to their local newspaper, to access news all over the country, would be good for consumers since it allows for them to continue to access news from all over the country from anywhere, without having to make seperate payments to each newspaper, and allows newspapers to continue to survive in this economy. For those who oppose this, how do you expect for newspapers to survive when advertising revenue does not make ends meet? Furthermore, blogs and part time journalists dont really have the resources to do some of the things that larger news organisations do, such as going into foreign countries which can require a lot of resources and security, and other investigations that require resources. This would bode poorly for american society which already is woefully ignorant about the world and international news. The smaller newspapers are often the ones most endangered and failing to act to prevent dissappearance of them would mean fewer independant voices and more media consolidation.

Lets stop demonising all of the newspapers here. We are talking about our ability of our society to have full time, paid reporters who act as independant watchdogs which play a critical role in our society as a check and balance against corruption. Making sure the newspapers can survive is in the best interests of consumers who rely upon and benefit from the research, investigation and reporting of news investigators and journalists.

Um... So? (2, Insightful)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141273)

I guess the readers do not realize just how many newspapers that have an online edition, charge for accessing said edition. It does not make financial sense to have a print news paper that you have to buy, and an online edition of the same thing for free. You would quickly loose subscribers thus losing money, leading to the newspaper going out of business ... because you want your news for free.

I happen to work at a small(ish) rural newspaper that has an online edition. You can get the edition free if you pay by the year or have a 3 month auto-pay account. Otherwise you have to pay to either also get the online edition, or just get the online edition. It has been fine that way for seven years.

Re:Um... So? (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141555)

You can get the edition free if you pay ...

You, sir, have a curious definition of "free". Do you also believe it when a retailer tells you, "the more you shop, the more you save"?

Already done in other industries (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28141537)

Posting as AC as this isn't commonly known where I live, but the shipping industry here actually has an agreement on file with the Federal Maritime Commission which allows them to sit down with their competitor to discuss rate hikes and decreases. They can't specify exactly what they would like to charge the consumer, but they can discuss percentages. The hikes must be approved by the FMC, but so long as they present a convincing enough argument, the new rates will be approved. Rate decreases do not require FMC approval. (Ie: Competition is dead. Same service virtually no difference in costs charging the same prices.)

Paywalls a failed business model? Ask Blizzard. (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28141559)

Everyone likes the New York Times, but if it's behind a paywall, everyone will go read Yahoo News instead. Right?

Everyone likes World of Warcraft, but since it's behind a paywall ($15/month!), everyone plays MapleStory instead. Right?

1 million Americans pay for the New York Times, and many more than that read it for free. 2.5 million Americans *pay* for WoW.

There's nothing wrong with paywalls, so long as you can make your product attractive enough to pay for.

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