Pay a small toll to read this news story

By Eric Auchard
May 12, 2009

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

There is nothing like the threat of a hanging to concentrate the mind.

The newspaper industry is in a collective panic over its future. The debate centers on the thorny issue of how publishers might find some way, any way, to make online readers to pay for what they read.

The fear is that the newspaper business model has suffered a mortal wound from the collapse of advertising that once funded it, and which has only accelerated in the current economic environment. Or perhaps it’s the realization that younger generations reared on digital media will never settle down to buy print.

This crisis has forced leading publishers and pundits propose all manner of last-ditch business strategies or glitzy technical solutions to cut off the abundant supply of free Web news undercutting their business models.

Print newspapers are limited by space on the page and the boundaries of physical distribution. But the volume of online news seems almost infinite and most of it is free.

Online readers are like butterflies fluttering from place to place. Very few pay directly for anything they read.

The dilemma is that if one Web publisher charges, users click elsewhere. It would take a general agreement among publishers to stop giving away their news for free to make charging for news on the web work widely.

A U.S. Congressional committee has been considering suggestions that the government relax competition barriers to let publishers cooperate in charging for online news, or perhaps offer them an educational, non-profit status.

Rupert Murdoch raised industry hopes last week by declaring that News Corp was studying how to make readers pay for reading news online and that News Corp would experiment with ways of doing so over the next 12 months.

One solution Murdoch is considering is micropayments, a kind of technological “silver bullet” that would allow publishers to levy a small charge per story on readers.

He’s vague on details, and until we know more, it’s hard to say how likely readers of the Sun or the Times in Britain would be to pay by the item.

However, paying by the item might work if the increments were small, like the cost of a text message, say 10 pence a story. Making consumers fill out endless forms and remember all their passwords won’t work either. Far better to figure out how to charge on a monthly bill, say through one’s broadband or mobile phone supplier.

Like the cost of phone calls, the individual cost of the article wouldn’t cause a fuss. It’s the ability to manage the overall monthly bill that would stop consumers from becoming frustrated.

Another alternative might be a subscription television model where readers might pay a single fee for access to 500 channels.

Murdoch is echoing former Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson who sees micropayments as a way to enable an electronic marketplace that trades all forms of media production, from professional journalism to user-generated video or blog posts.

Isaacson sees lessons for the news business in Apple’s iTunes or its iPhone Internet phone that has millions of users paying for music, movies, TV shows, software or games for a few dollars or pounds at a time.

The problem of micropayments isn’t technical. It has to do with the fickleness of news consumers in a world of abundant free content. It’s difficult to make potential readers appreciate the value of any particular news story before they read it.

But the newspaper industry must find a way to make work one or several of these proposals to make consumers pay for online news. The alternative is to accept that newspapers have had their day.

– At the time of publication Eric Auchard did not own any direct investments in securities mentioned in this article. He may be an owner indirectly as an investor in a fund –

59 comments

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Well got to ask where are all the “2nd amend” we want our rights guns etc folks now that it seems the VERY FIRST AMND is in danger.. that of a “Free press”. which it will NOT be if they media is shut down to a pay per view, basis. The one REALLY important thing to s free nation is not “I have my gun so I can take back my bad bad government etc etc.. the VERY MOST IMPORTANT keystone of a free nation is an honestly informed nation serviced by the integrity of a free press… That it seems was destroyed when the money bought congress and allowed a very few to own a very many media outlets. Be it left of right, the only source for the involved citizen is NOT from the “entertainment div” of a major corp.
So thanks Congress…seems when your FCC did what your owners wanted.. allowed the few to control/own the media, you in effect, canceled the FIRST Amnd.. So now that they are not producing to corp standards, mostly due to being run by “bottom line guys”..AKA Airlnes, Auto, banks, wall st,… each one run by book keepers with zero knowledge of their industry. Folks wanted to read local and state news.. and instead of doing such as it cost more for REAL journalists.. the “book keepers” opted to get the news off the wire..and cut local.. as “saved us $///’s.. It is not the net that took out the papers.. it is lack of real news.. as only competition now days is who gets the wire stuff out first. .
we all can learn to the lericks to this often sung USA status anthem.
“Hey hey,another failure in USA is on the way in the USA”
Lyrics for above written by MBA that recently consulted on how to make more for the corporation! Etc etc…

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

Chuck, I think you’re misunderstanding what the “free” in “Freedom of the press” means. That means the government doesn’t censor them, not that you get news without paying for it.

Posted by Drewbie | Report as abusive

Forget about it. There will always be someone with a message they think is so vital, that they will be happy to let you read it for free.
Soon e-newspapers will realise that they should be thankful for attracting any readers at all.
Financial Times are trying to limit what you can read, what do their readers do? they find someone else, like your paper. You have gained, FT has lost.
What exactly I’m not sure, but if you have readers, and FT not, somebody will, sooner or later, start asking questions about FTs relevance.

Posted by G Kaiser | Report as abusive

Although Chuck needs a date with a spell checker, he makes some good points. In America, the First Amendment to the constitution went out the door long ago, when the era of political correctness became en vogue. Since then litigation and fear of have been the standard of what free speech entails. True journalism went out the door at that moment – the investigative journalist especially got his/her hands cut off by corporate types. The only journalists with any integrity went to news services like AP, and somehow AP does alright offering their wires (on delay) for free. (I would also mention Bloomberg’s exception news service except that they charge through the nose!)

If people believe in getting local news from local reporters and such, I think communitites themselves need to organize and take back what’s theirs – their first amendment right to free speech and free press and their desire for the truth of matters, not a dumbed-down, corporate friendly version that obscures truth and spin doctors have final say on what in ‘newsworthy’.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

I have been one of those butterflies. For a time it was interesting because it exposed the bias of the content providers. Even that interest waned. All of the news providers I can recount clearly tailor their product for a narrowly defined group of readers. Too narrow. I would no longer pay a dime to read what they provide. Perhaps their target audience will . . . but that will not be enough for them to survive.
Fox News and the San Francisco Chronicle are examples of providers I have abandoned. I would only pay for content that targeted a much broader audience, and I would need to see serious, impartial investigative reporting.

Posted by Dale R Evans | Report as abusive

Why not just charge a quarter (25 cents) per day, per newspaper site, for online access.

Posted by Anthony | Report as abusive

I don’t think micropayments will cut it if you mean having to pay for each headline you click on. Not a chance. I can see paying for certain news sites; paying for a package of news sites, etc.

Posted by Mears | Report as abusive

Chuck, I would pay to read your blog buddy!

Posted by dstybin | Report as abusive

Richard.
Agree with what you say.. and by the way NOT needing spell check.. just using a new key board and not quite used to it yet.. mine died when I attempted to wash it with coffee.. I suspect to many confuse “blogs” with reporters and then confuse those two with “Journalists”. They are not interchangeable.. nor cost the same.
I still trace back the loss of our real media, journalists, at local and national-international to our lowering education standards. More so with respect to history, government, finance and just plain ole reading assignments. Now days even the net is going “video” AKA 30 sec sound bites that pass for news. Our increased national disdain for the written word verse the “video word” as well as “I only bother to read-view-listen to those in my comfort zone, AKA I only vote against the other side, nor really for my side etc” mentality, all traces back to a lowered education standard.
Noted not to far back UC Berkley or such, some prof’s wanted to push more history, finance, government, etc upon “Com-journalists” majors as required courses for degree! That ended up defeated as “put to much burden on and not really needed etc”..
All things considered, USA is falling behind the world in areas that matter, education, health, finance, life expectancy, even some states have higher infant death rate then some in Africa! We are losing our ability to think, and as such the “old days media-press” is going away. While some might claim the “net is free and taking the business, papers cannot compete” etc, the truth is we are just dumbing down, prefer medias that will agree with and not challenge us to think. The daily news with good local journalists is essential to our nation! It kept the political honest, it kept the people informed, and it was important enough to be listed in the NR ONE Amendment.
SO for those that think a “Free Press” only means “you pay to read it”.. well suggest a bit of history. The forth estate was the father of freedoms, here and across the world. One always “paid to read” it in what was called a subscription..and when nations fall, one always paid for the it…due to the citizens ignorance that allowed such to happen… A “Free Press” is essential ..not a subscription, as I can always read at tossed away yesterdays paper… It is the journalism we are losing, and it is being driven by the cost cutters bottom line” whom only seem the press as a commodity, a profit machine, only ask “how much will they pay for it”..not a deeper question of “without it how much will we pay for it?”
Rich
Note I meant it to read “leer-icks” as in “leer” as well as lyric” as one is only counting the money…

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

The newspaper industry sat by idly while the web ate their source of profits – classified ads. Now they are fixated on an unnatural act – charging for web content. Successful web strategies build upon the characteristics of the medium, and offer a compelling value proposition. The carping by journalists is provocative, but it won’t lead anywhere. Newspapers need innovative marketing strategies to survive.

Posted by Allen Carney | Report as abusive

The issue for them is not only the loss of advertising revenue, but also of ability to continue to brainwash the populace to suit the advertising sponsors and media owners. Micropayments are too high to start with compared to free news I can get anywhere. I hope, all newspapers go out of business together with TV channels. They have been nothing but tools of elite propaganda for decades.

Posted by FreePressAdvocate | Report as abusive

Some how – some way – with some degree of reason – there needs to be a financial gain in providing in depth research and high quality reporting. A lot of newsroom staff do their jobs for the love of it, but at the end of the day they need a pay check. When all is said and done if the print media is dying due to lack of circulation, poor news coverage, lack of advertising, and general disinterest how do we pay for honest and objective news reporting? I sure do not want the government messing around with the independent media either by subsidies or providing non-profit status – which could really make a mess of the situation.

I understand the need for newspapers to make money. I’m all for newspapers and the job they do. But something that I almost never hear is the simple fact that I’m already paying for internet access. I pay $50 US per month for my high speed internet connection. That comes to $600 a year. That’s more than my phone plan and roughly the same as my TV plan. It seems to me that the news content providers ought to be going after the cable companies for a piece of this lucrative action, not griping about how people like me are getting a free ride. There’s nothing free about it as far I’m concerned.

Posted by Bob Foster | Report as abusive

A pay-by-article approach may sound workable, but let’s consider this: News is already a commodity, and rewarding the authors of more ‘profitable’ stories at the expense of those who get hardly a click is a slipper slope we shouldn’t try clinging onto. There’s a very real danger that only news that sells will see the light of day – we’re not far from that today – while other stories no less deserving and potentially even more important get overlooked.

Posted by Fraser | Report as abusive

This is key article. The business model is eroding for many players in the global media. I can buy advertising-free webspace for $4.95 per month and a domain maybe for about $19.95 per year. Then I can have a website superficially like a professional site run by a large company. I can have a blog and maybe some internet commerce. It is hard for the public to see a need for paid service because the cost of the actual medium is so cheap.

I personally would not pay for this type of service. I can turn off my connection to the net for four months. Life would go on. It would be like I missed nothing. The internet is more often a diversion than a source of critical information.

However I spend a lot of money on reading material. Text books, codes, regulations, standards and practices. This is stuff that doesn’t normally appear on the net. Try it right now. See if you can learn how gas piping is connected from the meter to different appliances in your house. What type of piping. What type of fittings. What diameter of pipe. I even buy the electronic documents off the net sometimes.

Moreover, advertising has some real practical limitations on a website. The medium is not good for graphically rich content. So I’m thinking, it’s good I never did a Masters in Journalism. Whew, I missed a bullet.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

If “Isaacson sees lessons for the news business in iTunes or the iPhone that has millions of users paying for music, movies, TV shows, software or games for a few dollars or pounds at a time”, then he needs to go back to school…

“Buying” news articles is not like buying any of these things, which are, in effect, “durable goods” as far as the e-world is concerned. News is NOT durable goods, in that once I take delivery on my “purchase”, it’s immediately worthless to me (once read) and has zero resale value to anyone else. I’m NOT going to save and gain pleasure from re-reading my news purchases.

Follow the tried-and-true broadcast television model: Provide the news sites for free, we’ll all look at the ads, and the advertisers will pay your bills.

Posted by Brainstorms | Report as abusive

Fraser is right… If we end up going with pay-for-view for newspaper content, it’s going to quickly degenerate into lowest-common-denominator “infotainment” in order to garner subscriptions. (Or worse: Highly partisan ‘spin zone’ sites a la Fox News.) I don’t want to read the Enquirer or People/UsWeekly/whatever; I want the day’s news…

Posted by Brainstorms | Report as abusive

What about the BBC?
I already pay for that through my tv license,will I have to pay again for their news pages,since they don`t have a newspaper to lose money on???????

The rest of the world should pay for the BBC iPlayer too,my license fee paid for those programs to be made.But I think I`m just getting annoyed about injustices,politicians being able to claim for seemingly everything,and me able to claim for nothing.

Posted by missinterpret_uk | Report as abusive

Here’s what I *would* pay for: A gadget like the Kindle DX on steroids (I’m not an owner & have no affiliation!) that could receive newspaper pages (with ads) and magazine pages (ditto) on an 8-1/2×11-sized piece of “electronic paper” via a paid subscription to ‘wireless’ news feeds so that I could select & read news & magazines any time, anywhere — without sacrificing trees or having to carry much with me. Something like a cross between broadcast radio/TV, laptops/netbooks, and newspapers/magazines that’s simple, lightweight, and “intrinsically recyclable”. Save paper for printing books, not short-lived media! THAT might give newspaper organizations new life in the 21st century…

Posted by Brainstorms | Report as abusive

Let the greedy louts try it…I guarantee that I, and prob many many more, will be fine getting the news off of tv or radio. After they pulled the same shit with Napster, I made it a mission to never buy music online. I still get the occasional cd but everything i get off the net is FREE. There are always ways around the greed. Like chuck says : i want my “free”dom of speech hehehe

Posted by john rotter | Report as abusive

Micropayments for journalism have been a reality for more than 14 years. They were pioneered by Bill Densmore of Newshare, which for a time published the American Reporter, the oldest original online daily since April 10, 1995. AR charges a penny a word for articles for reprint, but readers get them free on the site. We may soon implement Bill’s technology to charge, and will probably charge $0.10 per story, as was our plan all along. I outlined this approach, which you is coming from Rupert Murdoch, at the Poynter Institute’s Journalism That Matters conference in March 2009. Jim Kennedy, VP of AP’s new technology development, was very much a part of that conversation. Bill Densmoe organized it. Your reporting is sort of underinformed on this stuff, but the article is much appreciated.

Let a subsciber pay $7/month and choose 25 news sites they want to see with options to change sites each month or upgrade to more providers. Each site would get 1/25th of my fee.

News sites would need to be on some type of registry if they wanted to get in on the funds.

If I happened to choose a site like huffpost then they would have to divy up my payment to all of their content providers.

Posted by Mick Romaine | Report as abusive

I did not read the full article. Newspapers will sell when they start reporting news that is unbiased and for real.
For openers reporters need to stop kissing Omamas butt and look at what goes on objectively. As far as my local paper, the only reason I read it is habit of the paper and coffee in the morning. I’m soon going to get over the habit as I am tired of the extreme bias.

Posted by Bruce S. Mitizk | Report as abusive

Why is this so hard?? The only successful radio news of sorts is Rush Limbaugh. Sorry liberal newspapermen (and women of course), but the proof is in the revenues and conservative views out sell liberal views among working, dollar producing people. If you appeal to those who don’t exactly fit that description you are ….to use a phrase…… ____ing in the wind or pulling on Superman’s cape.

Seems like a pipe dream. The only way to make money with print is via advertising and though this is at a low right now it will improve. OF course if the news papers would focus on quality impartial news and create some true celebrity columnists and following – rather than liberal and biased news that turns off – they may be able to really attract that ad revenue. The idea of linking a cost via a broadband company is really against net neutrality. And it will kill freedom of the internet. The last thing we want is funny business micro charges that balloons into a huge bill – I already hate cell phone carriers because of this and will ditch them as soon as someone creates a truly net-neutral cell service. How about – Charging for access to a newpapers site – some may enter – but I count every penny and will not go there. Remember, most people on the net are not wealthy and food on the table does take precedence.

Posted by James Smith | Report as abusive

Generating content that is more than repeating the self-serving statements of officials would be a good start. It would also help the news business if they provided writing that is perceptive, has context, pulls together significant sources (yes, more than one), and is written for adults. Journalistic standards used to matter – like not telling readers what to think, like checking facts, like avoiding loaded words, like rising above fads. When standards don’t matter, readers won’t pay.

Posted by matthew | Report as abusive

Mr Murdoch went ‘off-shore’ to find the lowest cost for paper, ink and labor, and if he charges me to read my news online, then I will just follow his lead, and go off-shore’ for my news…..

Posted by Edgy | Report as abusive

Great comments — in particular, regarding media bias and editorializing. Good riddance San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times and all the others out there that print prejudicial tripe instead of fact, and then wonder why no one buys their rag. Also note that TV news is also faltering, and many think for the same reason. ALL the news media buy feed stories from the same place, so you bet internet media will ALWAYS be supplied for free. This should also be a clear warning for internet news outlets, like this one, that impartial professional FACT reporting is what people want, and we will come to our own conclusions. Besides, enough trees have been cut down for newsprint over the years. Time to stop.

Posted by Ima Reedur | Report as abusive

Dear, Sir

I really care about the present Web newspapers industry and their problems.

Social civilization-evolution is changing according to the times. The newspapers industry is no exception. We cannot help reading the papers.

Let’s think smart.
We let the World Trade Organization (WTO) solve the problems of the world newspapers industry.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) can advise Every country of the world have to give the government subsidies to each nation’s newspapers industry company.

That’s OK.

Posted by Jinil.Hur | Report as abusive

The underlying world view has changed in a way that undermines the desire for solid news. When one believes there is a single, solid, factual body of universal truth to be discovered, one sees value in data/facts/news/education that will point to the timeless truth. This universal reality is waiting be be discovered by those who search; so you read, learn, take classes, study and explore to find as much as you can. Not so many years ago this view dominated.
Now “truth” is relative, internal and experiential. Your “truth” is different than mine and can be found within you. This is the dominant view of society and completely dominates education.
Ask yourself why you need hard news, data based education, facts and all the effort/expense that goes with obtaining it if “truth” is up to you and all you need to know is already within you waiting to be discovered. Without the impetus for finding an elusive external reality, only being up to date and in step with the right group matters.
Apply this the the newspaper crash- the people who have the world view that will treasure facts, the search for the truth, solid data and straight news are not likely to be ideologues comfortable with the New York Times far left agenda. So the liberal media is dying.
The old fashioned, Judeo-Christian conservative assumption that absolute, unchanging truth exists fosters a logic and desire for solid data, the facts from all sides and the lifelong quest to learn. A relativistic, inner-focused assumption about truth destroys that logic. Why are the conservatives drawn to Drudge when all it is a list of links? Why is the only major conservative newspaper the most stodgy and boring but factually rich? Why is the WSJ okay but the NY Times is dying? Why do you think there is no similar ground swell of opinion blogging on the right? They are all busy following all the Drudge links getting the fact to find the truth.
In the long run, conservative, fact-based media will continue to thrive; traditional liberal media will wither and be replaced by the blogging/opinion-based “news” from moveon.org style sites.

Posted by Florida | Report as abusive

No. Why? Pointing out the sun is shining is not news.

1. Lack of disposable income. I can’t afford to spend an additional 50 dollars a month on newspapers and magazines. If I’m going to waste 50 dollars it’s on cable internet service with plenty of information/interaction.

2. Lack of useful content. I arrived at this news story from drudgereport.com. If I buy a newspaper (take USA Today) I’ll have to look through 50 pages of stuff for the 3 minutes of important useful reading.

3. Until caps are put on mp3′s/movies where the artists actually get a good percentage I won’t/don’t buy them. Normally I stream a online radio station from Sweden for free. This is the same for newspapers why pay for content that you have to pay for when there are alternatives that are almost as good? IF the content goes to pay per I’ll just read forums. It only takes one person to read the article post and synopsis on a free forum.

4. Ad’s are dangerous. Even with the best virus protection clicking on any ad is dangerous. Do a google search of the virut virus that thing is a nightmare and even transferable by flash drive(it killed my laptop). I run mozilla with the ad-block mod.

Good day.

I have a hard time knowing that one can surf the web to obtain any kind of varieties of free porn but there will be limits and price guides for news? No wonder other countries hate us and want our decreased value system destroyed.

Posted by Judy Zimmerman | Report as abusive

Why the focus on trying to get readers to pay? Back when I subscribed to a print paper, I hardly paid a thing. In fact I only paid for Sunday and the paper begged me to accept more days for no more money than Sunday-only. Because, since I was paying for Sunday, those other days’ papers were being delivered to a “paying” (wink wink, nudge nudge) subscriber and the paper could count more eyeballs for its subscription auditors, and charge more for advertising.

Subscribers hardly paid a thing to keep print papers afloat. The advertisers withdrew the real support; subscriber’s support was hardly worth the cost to collect it.

Now suddenly they want subscribers to pay for online content? *Inferior* online content I must add. My local paper’s site, The Denver Post, is horrible. The same article might be displayed three or four times down the home page, in different sections. That would *never* happen in a print paper, because an editor, someone who cares, would prevent it.

It’s gotten so bad I never visit their site directly, I just subscribe to the RSS feed, which still duplicates stories but it’s easier to filter.

I emailed a complaint to the Post a few years ago. A story of great local interest had “What,” but there was no “Who, When or Why.” The response was that the site is put together automatically from AP feeds and they had no control over it.

And they want me to pay for that? The Economist or WSJ, maybe. For the Denver Post and others, not until they do some major “design on purpose” and treat it like they care.

Well, let’s just see what the news are worth if we have to pay for it. As many have correctly noted, most of the news presented by the “big news agencies” are biased, if not intentionally misleading. They may assume that the majority of the people actually trust them, but we have the ability to learn and judge for ourselves.
For the same reasons why I don’t buy printed news any more (it’s not worth the money spent) I’ll stop reading the online version if they charge for it. Without their lies I’ll probably understand the world better then…

Posted by mmilos | Report as abusive

That is never goin to happen..

Posted by a | Report as abusive

Briefly, I access more than 95% of my news information from about six different sites. One thing that strikes me odd in the example of how much one ought to be willing to pay to read an article or a news source. Its not a question of convincing people of the value of reading a story, rather helping the publishers understand that it might be worth $0.10 (ten cents) to read 500 stories. The business model simply lacks costs suck as paper, ink, trucks to distribute papers, kiosks to vend them, etc. and yet potentially has a distribution in the million

Just like Chrysler and GM, why exactly do we need them to stay in business? Tobacco was used by 75% of the American public 60 years ago. Now it’s about 25%. So what if we can’t get newspapers any more, there’s still television, radio, internet. Let the genius’s “business model” go to hell along with the passe conventions. They were the ones crying about free enterprise and the American way. Get a life!

Posted by Niel | Report as abusive

I stopped buying newspapers because of..
1,Ranting and raving opion peices
2, Blatent political manipulation.

Newspapers no longer can be trusted to give fair comment.
They push political agendas.

Posted by Ronnie Bell | Report as abusive

I agree that something along the lines of micro payment is a possible solution to funding the professional reporters, analysts etc who provide the news (although I’m not so keen on supporting the “professional reporters” who just regurgitate corporate press releases and dress it up as news!).
I’d suggest 10c per article isn’t a micro payment. If you add up all the articles on this site for instance and multiply by 10c, it’d be cheaper to buy the paper, and as the audience is truly global and massive, 10c is simply too high, a micro portion of a whole number would probably suffice to start as a micro payment, especially assuming there would be price increases down the line.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

Wasn’t it Warren Buffet who said he ain’t buying no newspaper assets at whatever price?

Posted by Albert HO | Report as abusive

Hiking the cover price of newspapers could be a lot easier than feared. Over the years newspapers have cut prices and offered incredibly cheap annual offers to get readership they can claim to preserve advertising tariff. The time has come for this model to change, perhaps dramatically. In many emerging markets newspapers are sold for less one-tenth the price of, say, a pack of cigarettes. It’s outrageous. Most readers, i feel, would not mind spending more to pick up the morning paper — a habit that has grown on them. May be, media houses should think through this. They should try to salvage the newspaper, before deciding the best way to earn from e-papers.

To those that argue that “the internet” will still be there if newspapers go and to those that argue that sites like the Drudge Report “will still be there”: … er… they all LINK TO TRADITIONAL NEWSPAPERS.
No go think about that.

Posted by Ferdi Greyling | Report as abusive

Mr Murdoch needs to speak to Mr Ailes.

The one size fits all newspaper days/model is over. People are selective in what they want to read and that’s were the likes of Murdoch have failed to understand and the WSJ is doing well. Different things for different folks. Sports news papers for sports folks, Politics news papers for political folks, Gardening newspapers for gardening folks…get the drift.
Charging for online news trash will never work. All the political spins/lies to stories days are over as people are fed up. Get a hint Murdoch from the audience attracted to reality TV. People want to be true to themselves and not that image which the publishers and governments try to enforce

Posted by Obi | Report as abusive

Another reason why online news portals will have to move towards some kind of payment model because disruptive technologies will suppress the online Ads – the only source of revenue.
Pop-up ad blocker is already a standard feature in browsers. Firefox has a “AdBlock” plugin which will automatically filter all the ads in any site. And perhaps in some time browser plug-ins will be capable of removing the video ads that show up before the actual video plays.

Micropayment is promising – However, someone has to get the payment model right – it is not about technology. it is about cracking the consumer mindset code.

I think the day of paying for news is over. No more will we pay 75 cents to purchase a portion of a tree that will be thrown out by the end of the day. As a small businessman, I realize the value of advertising on news websites, and I am willing to pay that news website a fair price to advertise my business…especially when the website is being viewed worldwide, as opposed to just the local community. As much as we all hate “pop-ups” and other tricky website advertising, we all take notice of the ads and my quess is that many of us will eventually investigate or even purchase the product or service being solicited. Therefore, if I were in the “newspaper” business, I would capitalize on the potential revenue from advertising than from attempting to charge a few pennies to readers to read a story they already saw on CNN TV!

The days of the newspaper are gone. Deal with it. As for paying a toll to read online lies and propaganda, here’s what will happen: the traffic on these sites will grind to a halt.

The newspapers should pay the people a toll for all the trouble they go through reading between the lines! Media has always been under the control of special interest groups. I would state a particular group that runs the roost, but then there would be no chance of this comment being published. Not to be concerned though, you ALL know who I am talking about – most media is owned and operated by this one group of people.

Perhaps the truth of my comment is what shall prevent it from published…

I love the IHT. Its important to me that it stays grounded as a international paper, not a US paper in its world coverage, and objectivity. I find, alot of news is pure propoganda, especially if writers want invitations to touch The Obamas in the flesh.

I believe Newspapers /print/ are definatley not passe.
I think online newspapers, are useful for surfing quickly, but the real stories you still find only in print. Give it 6mths, and papers will again rule.

Here is a real world example.

I live in America and every morning I read/scan six news sites around the world before 7:00 AM. Internet content is delivered with great speed and in an environmentally responsible way.

I used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Murdock raised the price to $150/year – a 20% increase. Assume 350 days/year and 10 articles/day the cost was about $.04 per article. However, 80% of the content is available elsewhere at no cost so the true cost/article was about $.021. Based on the 20% price increase and the perceived value, I revolted and canceled my subscription. Tales of geese and golden eggs come to mind.

Since my WSJ cancellation, I have only had two articles that I could not find elsewhere instantly. Often a google search will bring up many alternatives; all of them are freely available.

Print news is truly toxic – ink is considered hazardous waste in most areas, paper requires environmentally disturbing logging and pollution based production practices. And that does not account for the fuel used and emissions from the production process.

Newspapers will eventually disappear over the next 10 to 15 years. What replaces them will need to be some type of subscription product that is reasonably priced and covers a number of publications.

Posted by Robert Bainbridge | Report as abusive

I’m a bit surprised to hear Craig Gurgew say he likes to pay for cyber ads!! Maybe he hasn’t loaded the easily available pop-up and ad blockers etc commonly available. The marketing industry is another one in the same basket as the newspaper industry and faces many of the same issues although it certainly faces less constraints and has a great range of options available to it.
The age of the FREE will come to an end when the piggy-bank doesn’t rattle any more. Maybe your online ads will work for a while longer, but they are easy to make disappear.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

Edward R. Morrow is spinning in his grave. News and information is a SERVICE. A FREE media and FREE journalist is critical to FREE societies! That long ago was replaced with incentives of the uber media outlets with incentives counter to journalistic integrity. Yup there’s that word again, INTEGRITY. Who owns who now counts in information and editorialist, who pays those ad revenues also counts. Critical investigative reporting long dead and gone as that isn’t always predictably productive and isn’t always predictably profitable.

So, lets see now. I am supposed to pay for cable or satellite TV to get news and information and pay too for online news content? None of the aces have it yet, the turnip is dry. Pretty soon, no one will care as massaged political/business interests have overwhelmed factual basic reporting. We must have our soap opera drama or we won’t watch or read!! The contemptuousness for readers/viewers is based on hitcounts, ratings and lowest common denominator appeal, not value or service.

So, I suppose to be warned of the impending cat 5 hurricane barreling towards Miami or the serial killer on the interstate or the 100 billion dollar ponzi scheme financier or the elected official in local politics that embezzled from the city coffers, one must pay increasing amounts for real information and news you both need and use? Eh, I’m close myself to tuning it all out and let come what may.

Posted by NS | Report as abusive

These businesses will have to make adjustments according to the market.
I just hope the federal government does not intervene with the process.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I will not pay unless the subscriptions pay for part of my ISP fees. The newspapers cannot expect me to pay for the delivery of their electronic media for free.
I am sure there will be plenty new online newsorganiztion which do not have the overhead of printing and delivering physical newspapers to clients all over the place. With the cost of delivery when gas hits $4 again that is the end of the newpaper route… the dilivery will cost more than the paper.

Posted by helen | Report as abusive

Why would the corporate owned subsidiaries of viacom and GE want anyone to know the truth? These folks are professional propagandists, and when anyone challenges them, left or right, they are defamed then silenced.

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the communist party?”

The corporate stranglehold, the planned demolition of the economy, the absolute destruction of the middle class, what other conclusion could an intelligent american citizen reach?

This message has been paid for by Manchurian Global.
Have a nice day.

Joe McCarthy would be proud.

Posted by phoenix1 | Report as abusive

[...] the same fate only by securing an increase in their already hefty government subsidies. 12 May Pay a small toll to read this Eric Auchard (Reuters) The newspaper industry is in a collective panic over its future. The debate [...]

Exactly at this point in time I am shaking a little bag with 2 cents in it as token payment for the thoughts of Eric Auchard that have drifted my way like the smell of baking bread in the morning.

Posted by Dan Dan Dan | Report as abusive

Might I submit that the newspapers problem is not one of a digital nature? It is of sullied reputation, and hubris..
I for one will not pay to be lied to, if I want fiction I will go to the bookstore for the latest Harry Potter.

How long has this train been coming full steam ahead? Was there no one in the ENTIRE industry that wrote a story on the Internet, and its wonders of communication? They act as if the information superhighway was dropped out of space just yesterday.
Is it illegal for newspapers to have digital copies of its BS online, and to sell adverts on its pages?

Folks… I for one cannot WAIT for the last newspaper to go out of business, or stop doing business the way they have. Of course the canaries of the world will have a significant cage liner problem, but we will make do.

I was kind of with you until you suggested 10 cents per article.

I buy a newspaper for 50 or 75 cents and often read it from cover to cover. At 10 cents an artcile that same paper would run me several dollars.

Online, I tend to follow a thread… or sometimes let my interest wander from subject to subject, article to article. At 10 cents, I’d have to cancel my internet access very quickly.

Until you suggested a price, I was thinking in terms of, maybe, one-tenth of a cent per article.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or the U.S. Constitution. At the heart of the matter is this question: In journalism, where does the public interest end and the private interest begin? In other words, how can privately owned, profit-oriented media companies commit themselves to public-interest goals like being government watchdogs that are not beholden to corporate advertising? They cannot, really. A for-profit newspaper is essentially an oxymoron. Publicly funded media is the only answer to this question. We need more of it to fill the vacuum left by imploding newspapers. Just look at BBC News if you want a great example.

Posted by Tim H | Report as abusive

The internet is like a giant wholesaler. Not only newspapers are affected by it. Think of all of the brick and mortar retailers who must compete against someone who sells out of their basement on the internet. The internet is vicious as it drives inefficiency from all parts of the economy through instant price discovery. This credit crisis will one day be called the internet crisis… How many jobs will be lost by the time this world-changing transformation is complete?

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive