Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can selling news via the Web save the newspapers?

Should selling news on the Web be the grail of America's newspapers?

Less than a month after Aspen president Walter Isaacson called on media organizations to stop giving away content via the Web, Michael Hoyt of the Columbia Journalism School expresses confidence that "the recession won't last forever."

Mr. Hoyt, who edits the
Columbia Journalism Review, as quoted by CBS:
A complicating factor is papers offering their content on their Web sites — content they might want to charge for, but that people are used to getting for free. "About ten years ago," Hoyt says, "newspapers around the country made what amounts to an historic mistake. They believed it would be wrong to charge extra for online customers, and thought they could rely on advertisers for all their revenue.”

Now, he adds, the consensus is shifting. “You can sort of feel it moving toward, ‘Maybe we should sell our content.’ It’s an unknown (whether that could work). Content’s gotta be good enough to buy.”

The New York Times had been charging for online access to its columnists, but has stopped that, for now at least. Newsday is reportedly readying to charge readers for online content. If it catches on, it would create a model. But the jury's still out on whether people will pay for something they're used to getting for free. In the meantime, they have to hope the money will come from more traditional sources.
Also read, "Stop giving away content via Web"

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