Why Charging For Newspaper Content Online Doesn't Make Sense

from the exactly dept

One of the arguments that shows up here repeatedly is on the backwardness of local newspapers charging for online content. There are a number of reasons why it’s a bad idea – from the level of taking yourself out of the online discussion and believing that walled garden content can survive to misunderstanding the very basic economics of the internet. Still, many newspapers are trying to do so, and some even believe that it’s going well. Along comes Vin Crosbie, who knows both the newspaper business and the online content world, to smack a little sense into them. The Albuquerque Journal explained why they thought they were brilliant for creating a “successful” operation charging for their online content, and Crosbie picks apart the argument, bit by bit, and explains how they’re actually losing money on this plan – and how all their other examples of newspapers charging for online content are bad (or irrelevant) examples. If you’re interested in the economics of online content, it’s worth a read.

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Comments on “Why Charging For Newspaper Content Online Doesn't Make Sense”

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Ed Halley says:

Brand's Dictum

I am glad to learn that “Information wants to be free” is a poor soundbite from a much more rational original.

“Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine — too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property,’ the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new (technological) devices makes the tension worse, not better.” –Stewart Brand, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT

I hope we can start to spread the meme that saying just “Information wants to be free” is about as useful as saying that copyright is wrong, patents are bad, and globalism must be stopped. Espousing extreme views is a sign of naivite, while balanced reasoning is a sign of wisdom.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Brand's Dictum

Yeah. I agree that the full quote is much more useful.

I’ve always tried to modify the quote myself, by saying that information, once created wants to be free. The real issue is in creating the information – and that’s the expensive part. However, once the info has been created, the nature of it being infinitely reproduceable means that it moves towards being free, and there’s little you can do to stop it.

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