It’s been a busy week in the world of newspapers. While publishers continue to watch their revenue streams dry up, entrepreneur Steve Brill, former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz and cable guy-turned-investor Leo Hindery, Jr. think they have the answer: an online paid-content model.
In any case, both these events have generated a considerable amount of opinionated dribble, and wading through it all, I’ve come across a few perspectives worth considering.
- Newspapers must grow their online news market share. Can they?: Writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, Martin Langeveld explores how news consumption patterns have shifted online, but newspapers are in no position to charge for online content, so they’re just going to have to become “digital enterprises.”
- Don’t blame Google for newspaper woes: A former newspaper man himself, Alan D. Mutter puts the newspapers who repine about Google in their place by reminding us that “newspapers actually had a head start over Google. But Google “got” the web. And newspapers didn’t. That’s not Google’s fault.”
- Steve Brill wants to try charging for content online… again: Also writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, Matthew Ingram of the Globe and Mail casts serious doubt on Steven Brill’s proposed paid-content model by asking “whether readers want to pay for any of the content that Brill and his partners want to lock up, regardless of how easy they make it.”
- Why Newspapers Shouldn’t Buy What Steven Brill Is Selling: Ryan Tate of Gawker points out that Steven Brill’s paid-content model isn’t so much about publishing as it is about micro payments, and companies like PayPal are already doing a very good job of handling that (suggesting that if micropayments could save newspapers, PayPal would be even richer than it already is).
- Should Newspapers Charge for Online Content? To Answer This Question, You Have to Consult a Lawyer: Peter Scheer looks at the Steven Brill’s paid content model from an even more practical standpoint, noting that “Copyright does not protect ideas or facts, just the way they are presented” — suggesting that it wouldn’t be worth it because newspapers would have to entangle themselves in litigative mire to fully protect their paid content.
- Newspapers: No Bottom in Sight: Ashkan has a great little clip from CNN about newspaper ad revenues, putting all the debate above back into context.
- This Sounds Familiar: The Death Of Newspapers… 91 Years Ago: A poignant reminder how this isn’t the first time newspapers have been in trouble, and it probably won’t be the last — suggesting that the sky might not be falling on the presses after all.