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Someone Can Charge for News Content, but Who?

The New York Times continues to publish articles on what it calls the “free vs paid debate” (Google it). They are trying to figure out, in public, how to charge for news delivered over the web.  The article notes that people can’t expect news for free, and advertising is not supporting web publishing efforts.They seem to try to justify some sort of subscription model, and I am betting it will be a back door tax (levied through ISPs or such) if they have their way. And why is that? Because that’s the only way to hide the value proposition from us consumers.

Good information is valuable. Many of us pay for quality information every day. We subscribe to expensive journals, and belong to membership sites from which we gain seemingly valuable insights.  We spend money attending meetings because of the information (all forms) we gather through participation. We pay for quality information. Pay is the action verb in that sentence, which reflects intent which drives the commerce.

We (apparently) don’t get quality information from the news media. How else can you explain that we, in general, don’t want to pay for it?

Someone can charge for online content, but I doubt it will be the New York Times or any other old-school media outlet for that matter. They simply don’t have the culture of value we need. They have trained us over the years, so we know where the value is in the published news media.

Here’s a clue for the New York Times: many of us are ignorant and lazy, and we used to pay $10 per week to have your “news” delivered to our doorsteps. We knew it was full of bias (editorial bias, selection bias, presentation bias, etc) but since we are lazy, we didn’t care. It was OUR news which we paid for. Did the story about Gaza have a slant? Who cares! It was OUR story about Gaza, which WE chose to pay for. We knew it wasn’t 100% truthful news… we learned that about you guys long ago.. that you have agendas driven by politics and advertising, and other things money. But we were ok with that.. we chose to pay for it.

Another clue: many of us are smart and righteous about value. We paid for the Sunday Times because for $5 it was a whole day’s entertainment, plus some. We enjoyed it. We tolerated the daily because, well, it was one of many slanted stories we read in hopes of forming a valid opinion of fact. If it takes work to be properly informed, well, we will do the work of reading through the New York Times bias and figuring out the truth (as near as we can).

So now does the New York Times think it can claim to be accurate, factual news, on the web, with a value proposition to match?

We have so much free entertainment on the web, we don’t need the Sunday Times anymore (although some people will still see value). We have so many different perspectives available to us on the news, that YOUR different perspective doesn’t have so much value any more. We’re not choosing it anymore. We’re not paying for it. And every time you let one of your really good thinkers leave to start their own blog, we follow to that (free) blog because it has value (to us).

If you repackage your content as factual news… well I’m afraid you have to suffer the performance metrics the rest of us on the web suffer every day. It’s true or it’s not. Your facts will be checked, your slants will be exposed, and your hidden agendas will be highlighted and amplified. You may even become fodder for those free entertainment sites I mentioned, as well as those free alternative perspective sites I mentioned. Your walled garden of “news reporting” is walled no more.Was it ever news, anyway? I bet it was.. many years ago.

TV got this years ago. Today Bill O’Reilly reports the news, and Jon Stewart reports the news. Very popular news shows, right? Think about it.

I don’t think this bodes well for us citizens, as our “news” becomes nothing but slant, editorial, and infotainment. Scary to think what hapens when no one will pay for “news” anymore, and we are left with only the stuff that is supported by marketing messages or political agendas or fear mongering. But HEY! That ship left port YEARS ago! You all destroyed our news media a long time ago, even if you don’t think that anyone actually knew that you were  doing it. We did. And you did. So stop pretending that the loss of “real” news will be harmful to society. Get over it. We are SO over you already.

I’m getting bored hearing how the New York Times will figure out a micropayments subsciption model, or AP will find a way to charge for every 5 words it spits out into a news feed. Yawn.


  1. glyn wrote:

    “They are trying to figure out, in public, how to charge for news delivered over the web”

    . they are trying to sensitize their readership to a change in policy, so when they say you have to buy it online as well, it has not been done without a proper debate.

    Farcical. A bit like how newspapers have been clutching at straws.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  2. Tom wrote:

    Indeed, I would subscribe to a newspaper as soon as I know they are UNBIASED and FACTUAL. If I feel they try to bul*hit me, I’m no longer their client.

    They have lied to me so many times that now I feel lonely when I talk to my friends or family members who STILL believe their manipulated stories. “But it was on CNN” or “But I read it in New York Times”. etc. No more, I say good-bye to your lies!

    Friday, April 10, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  3. I absolutely agree with Tom. Most of the stories published in newspapers and magazines are manipulated. And now they are also trying to make people pay for articles on the web, which sometimes are compltely untrue!

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink