Three of the traditional media world’s brightest stars have a bright idea: Start a consultancy to help old-media companies charge for their content online. (And announce the venture in an old-media publication.)

From The Wall Street Journal’s website on Tuesday afternoon:

A trio of media executives is starting a firm to guide efforts by newspapers and other publishers to charge for content posted on their Web sites as advertising revenue tumbles.

The venture, Journalism Online LLC, is being led by Steven Brill, the founder of the American Lawyer magazine and Court TV; Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal; and cable-television veteran Leo Hindery.

Crovitz, who was unseated when Rupert Murdoch bought his paper and given a column instead, told the Journal that charging for online content won’t solve all the problems facing newspapers and other information purveyors on the Internet, but it would do some good. He also said that Journalism Online LLC would make money by sharing revenue from consumer payments and licensing fees. No word from Hindery (now in private equity after selling TCI to AT&T and running Global Crossing before that company hit the skids) or Brill (one existing magazine, one defunct one).

UPDATE: Crovitz told us that publishers — not all of them newspaper publishers — are in talks about whether to use the system. He wouldn’t name any, however. (And another UPDATE! Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Chief Brian Tierney says his papers aren’t ready to sign up yet, but they are interested in talking more about it.)