Those of us who are in the newspaper business could not be blamed for hoping that someone like him comes along and ruins our business as well by pulling the same trick: convincing the millions of interested readers who get their news every day free on newspapers sites that it’s time to pay up.
As the internet destroys the local advertising monopoly previously enjoyed by newspapers, newspaper people are talking about radically altering their current digital business models. One idea getting a lot of attention is that that iTunes Music Store points to a generalizable model for selling digital content. You can find endless examples of this belief by googling ‘iTunes newspapers’; as a reference, take David Lazurus’s piece iTunes proves newspapers can and should charge for online access, whose title neatly encapsulates the idea.
The idea that people won’t pay for content online has become such a part of the Web orthodoxy that New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller risked getting lynched earlier this month for merely musing about paid models for the online editions of his paper. Not helping Keller’s cogitation was a contemporaneous “secret memo” from Steve Brill and a Time article by Walter Isaacson, both which advocated variations on the micropayment model. Neither advances the topic much beyond what most Web entrepreneurs understood long ago.
The issue of how to monetize news on the internet continues …