Media Dinosaurs Look To Set Up iTunes For News

from the haven't-we-seen-this-before? dept

Well, there they go again. Three big "media" names, who have been trying to convince themselves that there are enough people out there clamoring for someone to give them a way to pay for news, have decided to put together a company that will do just that. Stephen Brill, L. Gordon Crovitz and Leo Hindery Jr. have teamed up to create a system to charge for news, with the idea that any newspaper can sign up and use their system. Clay Shirky calls this an RIAA for news, while Mathew Ingram points out that it may be more accurate to call it an iTunes for news.

The problem, of course, is that this is all based on the faulty theory that people want an iTunes for news. This, of course, is great for other newspapers who know better, and decide to skip out on this plan, and get all the traffic that these newspapers give up. As Jeff Jarvis points out, in looking for news about this very venture, he was blocked by the paywall at some sites, and found the best coverage at a free site.

And, of course, it's especially ironic that Stephen Brill is behind this. That's because he's tried this before and it failed. Miserably. Meanwhile, Hindery in the past has shown that he also is one of those guys who tends to overvalue content and undervalue everything else people do online (communicate, share, discuss). This whole model is based on this single faulty assumption: that it's the news itself that's important to people. It's not. The news is important, but people want to be able to share the news, spread the news and discuss the news -- and you can't do that when it's behind a paywall. The very act of putting up a paywall diminishes the value of the content.

Still, it's a great opportunity for competitors of any newspaper short-sighted enough to sign up for this program.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 6:11am

    Psychology of writers

    "Hindery in the past has shown that he also is one of those guys who tends to overvalue content"

    As someone who enjoys writing and is currently trying to get a first novel published, one thing I've read OVER AND OVER again in literature on writing is something similar to, "It's very easy to get wrapped up in your own writing, to try and put on a show with your words, to make YOUR WRITING the star of the show. It isn't. The story is the star and you're simply a vehicle to tell the story."

    Since Watergate journalists have become the stars, because viewers have allowed it, mostly because they didn't have many other choices. Now we do. I want to know about the struggle off the shores in Somalia, NOT what Mike Wallace thinks about that struggle. I want a historical perspective on Russian views of American influence abroad, NOT Sean Hannity's perspective.

    It's over, your time has passed.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 6:25am

    Re: Psychology of writers

    Exactly! Journalists are tired of sitting on the sidelines and reporting the news; they now want to participate in it and even create it. This is the real problem with journalism; not the internet. I am tired of biased news; I want facts.

    For instance; check the NYT article stating 90% of illegal guns in Mexico come from the US. Now check an article from Fox News earlier this month showing that 90% of traced guns come from the US which amounts to 17% of the confiscated guns. The other 83% aren't traced in the US because they have no serial number (meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number) or are the kinds of guns not legal in the US. No, I don't mean to make this statement about gun rights vs. control; it is only used to point out the bias of journalists.

    The other problem is the need for 24x7 news. A story is run immediately with or without the facts. Just check the recent article about the Columbine shootings 10 years ago. According to the new article; almost nothing that was reported at the time is true. Of course, maybe the new article isn't true? Who knows; the journalists sure don't.

     

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  3.  
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    Zaven, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Agreed entirely. I think most people just want the facts these days. Give me the strict unbiased fact and add some room for comments. Let me and others discuss the importance of them. I don't need someone telling me what to think. I'm not a sheep.

     

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  4.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Propaganda model

    Noam Chomsky presented the Propaganda Model for media 20 years ago. Now that the *real* consumers (the advertisers) aren't willing to spend as much, media is trying to turn the model on its head and start charging the *product* (the reader). Its like a fisherman who, when no one wants the fish he's bringing to market, tries to start charging the fish for the privilege of eating the worm. The fish can eat elsewhere.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    The other 83% aren't traced in the US because they have no serial number (meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number)...

    Um, no. Regardless of country of origin, if a gun doesn't have a serial number it most likely means that it was removed, not that it never had one.

    Virtually all manufacturers put serial numbers on the guns they manufacture. It is not some kind of a "US only" thing and if Fox said so then they are the ones being misleading. If Fox didn't say so and you're making stuff up then you're the one being misleading.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re: Propaganda model

    "Its like a fisherman who, when no one wants the fish he's bringing to market, tries to start charging the fish for the privilege of eating the worm. The fish can eat elsewhere."

    Oh man, I love that analogy.

     

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  7.  
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    R. Miles, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Who knows; the journalists sure don't.
    Part of the problem is the definition of journalist.

    Sticking a microphone in someone's hands and airing them doesn't make them a journalist.

    Hell, anymore, if there's a person involved, they're not really journalists, but publicists.

    The real journalist is who typed up the story for the publicist to read.

    Think people watching their TV news will know this?

    More importantly: Do you think they care?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Re: Psychology of writers

    "It's very easy to get wrapped up in your own writing, to try and put on a show with your words, to make YOUR WRITING the star of the show. It isn't. The story is the star and you're simply a vehicle to tell the story."

    I'd disagree. A good writer and a poor one can both tell the same story. The difference is in the words they use.

     

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  9.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    In my understanding of the spirit of the instructions when I read them was that the focus was on the enjoyment/pleasure of the reader, or end user. This seems to be something journalists today are ignoring, instead thinking of themselves as the consumable (Think Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) Why are newscasters celebrities?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Since you are too lazy to become informed yourself here is the quote: "Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News. Was it filed off or did it come from somewhere that doesn't put them on? Who knows. Maybe you do since you know that "virtually all" gun manufacturers put serial numbers on their guns.

    Oh, Fox reported what the ICE agent told them so maybe it was neither Fox or I, but the ICE agent who is misleading.

     

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  11.  
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    dataGuy, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    "I am tired of biased news; I want facts"

    Well said. In the old days the BBC would attempt to give you "both sides" of the story. Of course for many issues there are more that two sides of the story. The one side of the story I could totally care less about is the reporter/news organizations opinion.

     

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  12.  
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    David, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    The thing that will be a problem is...

    ...there are some people who will pony up for the news, because they don't know any better.

    If you think that is not true, why does SPAM work? Because there are a (very) small percentage of clicks, so that has them send out more the get their volume...

    Scary!

     

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  13.  
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    tjotoole, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    strip-mining publishers' desperation

    I write for a living, and I hope newspaper owners will resist the temptation to sign up for this program. Brill is strip-mining desperation here, just as he exploited vanity (American Lawyer) and misery (CourtTV, Clear) in earlier business ventures. In a lot of places right now, energy is being put where it belongs -- improving the product -- and not on marketing or micro-pay stunts like this. I have faith the news business is going to look better in the future.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    Re: strip-mining publishers' desperation

    What kind of writing do you do for a living. BTW, also clicked your link, very interesting stuff.

     

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  15.  
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    swag, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Laugh all we want at the media dinosaurs. Most so-called new media companies today aren't making any money either and will end up fossilized roadkill.

    In fact, the new media companies today can't even have "As you are, we once were" applied to them. Because at least the dinosaurs made money at one point.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re:

    Maybe the real problem is there are to many journalistic organizations? With TV and the internet; they can be seen and heard world wide so maybe we don't need so many? Maybe they should be specialized? Local journalists covering the local news; national journalists covering the national news and not have so much overlap.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:17am

    To my knowledge, facts can not be copyrighted so what is going to stop other websites from reading these news articles and creating their own based on the facts of the original article?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re:

    I agree. Go to Yahoo or Google and setup an account and add a page of news. Pick any and all of the news organizations you can find. With a dozen or so on your page; check how many are running the same stories. I'll give you a hint, they all run the same stories. Now assuming they are reporting facts and not bias; how many reports do you actually need? I'll give you another hint; one. Maybe they could add value by covering different topics or discuss how the news affects you, the economy, the world, whatever. There is only room for so many parrots; at some point they have to differentiate. There are to many McDonald's and not enough Burger King, Hardee's, Chik-fil-a, etc.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Don, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Journalism

    The problem, IMO, is not with the journalists, but with the owners of the media. At one time they were independent. Now, they are owned by a few companies who make most of their money from major advertisers, such as arms manufacturers, whom they don't want to upset. Look at the weekend news interview shows and see the ads from companies like Boeing. I doubt if you're going to buy a plane from them, but if something negative comes up about Boeing, is a media company that gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising from them going to say anything?

    Every day at Fox News begins with emails from Roger Ailes about what to focus on and how to present it. Depending on Fox for any real news would be like depending upon life preservers made of toilet tissue.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Since you are too lazy to become informed yourself
    ...
    Maybe you do since you know that "virtually all" gun manufacturers put serial numbers on their guns.


    OK, inform me. Which ones don't? And do they represent 83% of the market? (I suspect that I'm more informed than you realize)

    Oh, Fox reported what the ICE agent told them so maybe it was neither Fox or I, but the ICE agent who is misleading.

    Well, if you can provide a link quoting one of them saying "meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number" then I'll blame them. Otherwise, it's looking like you're the one.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    This seems to be something journalists today are ignoring, instead thinking of themselves as the consumable (Think Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc.)
    I wouldn't consider either of those to be journalists. Instead, I'd consider them entertainers.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re:

    To my knowledge, facts can not be copyrighted so what is going to stop other websites from reading these news articles and creating their own based on the facts of the original article?

    Some places, like New York apparently, have laws making it illegal to copy the information in news.
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20090225/0321273898.shtml

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Reading comprehension at it's best. I said, quoting the article, that they weren't traced because they had no serial number or were the kind that aren't in the US. So whether they have no number or no discernible number I don't know. It also doesn't say what percentage of each either. So you jump to conclusions about it and get mad when busted for it. Grow up please.

    BTW, have you ever bought a Russian or Chinese gun in Russia or China? Do you know for sure that they have serial numbers? Or do you just assume that since the US does it everyone does? My guess is you fall into the later category.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Journalism

    And CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc are any different?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Certainly, but great writers (IMO) don't want the reader thinking about the author or his words, they want them so wrapped up in the story they're not thinking about the words, let alone the author.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    So whether they have no number or no discernible number I don't know.

    Ahem, let me quote you: "meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number". Despite your assertion, I still say that just because a gun doesn't have a serial number doesn't mean that it was never sold in the US. If you want to deny saying that, I would like to remind you that your original comment is preserved above for everyone to see.

    So you jump to conclusions about it and get mad when busted for it.

    I have no idea what makes you think I'm mad, because I'm not. And so far, you're the only one getting busted, whether you like to admit it or not.

    Grow up please.

    Ad hominems really don't do much for your argument or image.

    BTW, have you ever bought a Russian or Chinese gun in Russia or China? Do you know for sure that they have serial numbers? Or do you just assume that since the US does it everyone does? My guess is you fall into the later category.

    As a matter of fact, I have seen plenty of both and all that were in original condition had manufacturing serial numbers. Like I said, I suspect that I know more about the subject than you realize.

    Now, I asked you to name manufacturers that don't put serial numbers on their guns and you have failed to do so. I am now more convinced than ever that you are just making stuff up, which is kind of ironic coming from someone complaining about journalists "creating" news. Too funny, really. But perhaps not too surprising coming from someone that also seems to consider Fox News a reliable source.

    Or maybe you're just a troll. Either way, I'm not wasting any more time on you. Go ahead, get your last word now.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Journalism

    "And CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc are any different?"

    From Fox News? Yes.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    WTF? In my first post I quoted the article nearly word for word. Then I posted the actual text from the article. So let me repeat for those of you who are hard of reading. They were not traced because they did not have serial numbers. The reason for no serial numbers is not given; maybe they were filed off, maybe they were manufactured without them. Go to Fox news and search on "mexico gun myth" and read for yourself. WTH am I making up? I am quoting the article. I don't know who makes guns without serial numbers. But then again; I get all of mine legally in the US and they have serial numbers.

    If your knowledge of guns is anything like your reading comprehension I don't want to hear about it.

    Now comes the Fox News bashing. Why do liberals such as yourself get so up in arms (pardon the pun) about Fox news? Doesn't it bother you that every other news organization in the country has an extremely liberal bias? Shouldn't you be worried about bias period, regardless of which way it goes?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Journalism

    Yes, you are right; they are even worse as they are liberal.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    So you only listen to one side of the story? And yes, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc are all the same side of the story. Wouldn't it be better to listen to all sides and determine for yourself? Or do you want to be spoonfed by the media like the good ole days?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Art Jones, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    iTunes for news

    I was in graduate school at USC when we first saw what was to become USA Today. I thought it was very cool back then - circa 1979-80. Tech is doing to traditional (read: old) print media what the iPod has done to the FM DJ: Obsoleting them. Young people (anyone under 50) don't read anything from the old world - even my wife reads SFgate.com and not the SF Chronicle. To think that people will pay for something that has always been free is beyond stupid. The WSJ can do it because of it's uniqueness, but that won't last much longer. To try to monetize news as long as there are free outlets (broadcast in the forms of radio and TV) may be closing the gate after the barn is empty. I'm a news fan (I did my graduate work in Journalism at USC) but I surf the net, listen to radio or listen to (yes, listen to) TV news while I surf the net. I'll be 60 in a few minutes, and like a 20-something asked me recently, "... you don't still read the newspaper do you?", I don't read newspaper for news - only for leads - and that's drying up. I can't wait until I can get live streaming video from CNN and other outlets on my iPhone!

    peace.

     

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  32.  
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    Art Jones, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    PS: News accompanies our lives

    Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. I'd be very surprised if very many people under 50 will pay for news - even on iTunes! I'm just sayin'.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Wilhelm Busch, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    RE: Ron

    Can't help but agree with Ron, the moment advertising revenue usurped subscriptions the whole thing was basically compromised and ITA, TV and radio were ITA from day one. A child of four would know that you can't bite the hand that feeds you for long and sooner or later the piper has to be paid.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Azrael, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Journalism

    Liberal = supporter of freedom.
    You = a dumb redneck.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Andrew Fitzgerald, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

    Well there's obviously room for both... I'm a big fan of this blog, but to call it unbiased would be ridiculous.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Andrew Fitzgerald, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    On a somewhat related note, any recommendations for a general news rss? I've tried a couple out but it's a bit overwhelming when there are 100 stories after you leave the computer for a few hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Andrew Fitzgerald, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:32am

    Re: PS: News accompanies our lives

    Agreed. As long as there are comparable free services, there's no way the younger generation will pay for news.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 3:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Journalism

    Now that is funny right there. How do you get that liberal = supporter of freedom? I don't even see how either side of the government is a supporter of freedom any more.

    Then the name calling; a very typical tactic for liberals. When you result to cursing, shouting or name calling, you have already lost your argument.

     

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  39.  
    icon
    GregSJ (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 5:03pm

    Public Policy re: IP laws

    Mike,
    Great article! I think you got it exactly right when you said:
    The news is important, but people want to be able to share the news, spread the news and discuss the news -- and you can't do that when it's behind a paywall. The very act of putting up a paywall diminishes the value of the content.

    Seems to me this is the exact purpose of Intellectual Property law; to reward creators/inventors for sharing their ideas with the public. The concept being that the idea is much more valuable to society when it is shared.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Graeme Thickins, Apr 30th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: Public Policy re: IP laws

    "Seems to me this is the exact purpose of Intellectual Property law; to reward creators/inventors for sharing their ideas with the public. The concept being that the idea is much more valuable to society when it is shared."

    So, where are the new business models that will support paying the creators of the stories we call news?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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