My brother-in-law, who lives in New Jersey, is a Steelers fan. He asked for a keepsake issue of the local paper, so I sent out an e-mail to my colleagues to beg for their used copies. The truth is, I wouldn’t even take a free subscription to the print edition, since it would mean more junk piling up in my front hallway.
I’ve done some serious re-thinking after these last few months, as the news business has dutifully and industriously covered its own implosion. We’ve never had easier access to high-quality journalism online, but the problem is we won’t pay for it.
The easy Internet ad dollars of the late 1990s enticed newspapers and magazines to put all of their content, plus a whole lot of blogs and whistles, onto their websites for free. But the bulk of the ad dollars has ended up flowing to groups that did not actually create much content but instead piggybacked on it: search engines, portals and some aggregators.
Another group that benefits from free journalism is Internet service providers. They get to charge customers $20 to $30 a month for access to the Web’s trove of free content and services. As a result, it is not in their interest to facilitate easy ways for media creators to charge for their content. Thus we have a world in which phone companies have accustomed kids to paying up to 20 cents when they send a text message but it seems technologically and psychologically impossible to get people to pay 10 cents for a magazine, newspaper or newscast.– Walter Isaacson, Time