In what at first sounds like it must be a "modest proposal" sort of satire, but actually appears to be serious, W.B. McNamara
writes in to point out a suggestion in the San Francisco Chronicle written by journalist/lawyer Peter Scheer, that all newspapers and wire services agree to embargo all content from the "free" internet for a period of 24-hours
. He suggests they agree to do this while somehow avoiding anti-trust violations -- which is pretty much impossible. He claims this will highlight the value of paper newspapers:
"A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals -- Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from "mainstream" media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news. Digital fish wrap. And the portals know from unhappy experience (most recently in the case of Yahoo) just how difficult it is to create original and timely news content themselves."
I would guess that Mr. Scheer doesn't play chess very often, because he doesn't seem to have considered what happens in response to this opening move. Assuming that somehow, miraculously, all newspapers and wire services agree to do this without violating antitrust law (which is basically impossible), it opens up a huge
opportunity and a hole for someone to step in and serve that need. He ignores that there are plenty of other sources of news outside of newspapers, from TV to radio to online only sources already. Newspapers don't have a monopoly on the news, and taking them out of the game doesn't help them -- it just promotes everyone else. He thinks that the portals can't create original content and timely news (which he's wrong about, first of all), but they would have a much easier time if the entire competition voluntarily
stayed home each day. All this would do is clear the playing field for others to fill the need and make newspapers even less
relevant in a matter of days (if that long). At what point do people realize that the strategy on the internet isn't about putting up artificial barriers and making things more expensive and more difficult for users, but in adding value and making life easier and better?