Friday, March 23, 2007

Free-for-all or pay-per-view?

David Lazarus of the San Francisco Examiner has dared to suggest what many in the blogosphere would consider blasphemy: Sooner or later, newspapers will have to start charging for on-line content. Trouble is, as even Lazarus acknowledges, many newspapers are making the precisely the sort of changes -- like, maybe, cutting back on locally produced film coverage? -- that actually devalues the worth of its content. The money quote comes from Philip Meyer -- a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. If newspapers do want to get away with charging fees, Meyer said, they'll need to invest in creation of the sort of unique content that web surfers and blog readers simply can't find anywhere else. "Unfortunately, most newspapers are going in the opposite direction," he observed. "They're cutting back on staff and on the high-quality content that people might pay for."

BTW: Predictably, Lazarus got some angry reactions to his heresy.

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