WSJ Editor: Those Who Believe Content Should Be Free Are Neanderthals
from the that,-or-people-who-understand-economics dept
Danny Sullivan has an excellent analysis of some of the more ridiculous statements from WSJ managing editor, Robert Thompson, trashing pretty much everything online. Most of Sullivan’s analysis focuses on how ridiculous it is for Thompson to claim that Google makes news readers “promiscuous,” so I won’t address that again (though, you really should read Sullivan’s writeup). Instead, I wanted to focus in one little bit that Sullivan mentions, but doesn’t explore too much (other than to mention how insulting it is). Thompson declares that there are “three types of people” online, starting with:
There are the net neanderthals who think everything should be free all the time.
Pretty scary that someone who’s the managing editor of the most well known and well-respected business newspaper out there thinks this, huh? First off, I don’t know anyone who thinks “everything should be free all the time.” People are more than willing to pay for scarce goods of value. Where they fundamentally have issues is with being charged for content that can be made free at no additional cost. And that’s not “neanderthal” thinking, it’s good old classic economics — the kind we thought the WSJ supported.
And, of course, this also shows Thompson fundamentally not understanding the debate. For many, many years there’s been plenty of “free content” in the terms of “free to the consumer” but which is supported in other ways. As Sullivan points out, News Corp., which owns the WSJ, also owns Fox — which delivers free content, over the air, to consumers, but supported by advertising. Is that a Neanderthal opinion?
It really makes you wonder what they’re thinking over at the WSJ or what sort of business smarts they have when they both consider Google to be a problem and think that basic economics on content pricing is “Neanderthal.” It should call into question their thinking on other business topics as well. And, remember, this is the same company that is lashing out at “aggregators” like Google News, at the very same time that it’s offering its own aggregator as well. If Thompson thinks Google News makes people promiscuous, why does his own site offer something similar?