Online News Has No Choice But To Be Free

from the indeed dept

There's a great opinion piece by Shane Richmond on the website for the UK's Telegraph newspaper, pointing out that various newspaper execs complaining about the fact that news is free online seem to be missing the point. They are complaining about news being available for free, and claiming that if newspapers had agreed to charge online from the beginning things would be different. But, as Richmond points out, the only real way they'd be different is that no one would get their news from newspapers (online or otherwise) any more. News was going to be free online from the beginning because it's the fundamental nature of information. When it's abundant, it becomes free. That's your basic economics of supply and demand at work. The whole theory that newspapers could charge is based on the false assumption that the only sources for news would be newspapers. If all newspapers charged, it would open up a huge opportunity for other news sources to make the news free online -- and then why would people pay the newspapers? It's sad, in this day and age, that so many newspaper execs still don't understand this basic fact -- because, until they do, they'll never really be able to adopt web-aged business models. Instead, they'll just keep (incorrectly) regretting that they didn't charge.
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Filed Under: business models, economics, free, newspapers


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2008 @ 1:52am

    Re: So what about free newspapers?

    No, because traditional newspapers and free newspapers are printed on paper. The only (recognized) way to get revenue with a newspaper is from the sales price and from advertising. This means free newspapers are filled with ads, and what you get, when paying, is the privilege of a paper with fewer ads in it - and they're typically gathered in one, easily skipped, section. Like the "houses" or "used cars" section. This doesn't work online, because of Adblock and similar applications.

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