A New Kindle For Newspapers? « PREV | NEXT »: A Case Against Critics?

May 10, 2009

It doesn't work until it works

Everyone seems to agree that the old print-newspaper business model is broken. But no one can figure out a new, Internet business model that will generate enough money to pay critics and reporters and editors to carry on the vital business of digging up the news and leading the cultural discussion. The Internet is free and some of the most successful sites, political and cultural and otherwise (including ArtsJournal.com), are based on their ability to link to extant newspaper and magazine sites cost-free. When some of those sites have attempted to charge readers for content, their traffic drops precipitously (remember "Times Select," the New York Times's failed attempt to get readers to pay to read their columnists and such?).

But some day soon someone will suddenly and unexpectedly figure out a way to make the Internet pay. As Frank Rich points out today, nobody thought pay-per-view television would work, until it did. Maybe advertisers will rally around some aggregated platform of Internet publications and blogs. Maybe the public radio and television model will gain traction, with loyal readers willing to pay for the privilege of high-level coverage.

As a retiree, I can afford to observe these developments with detached fascination (at least as long as the Times sustains its pension fund). There will be news and there will be arts journalism and criticism. But what form it will take is pretty exciting to contemplate, however grim the situation may seem now. And when the solution does come, everyone will accept it and wonder why they didn't foresee the advent of something so simple and obvious sooner.

May 10, 2009 2:00 PM | | Comments (2)


Aren't newspapers beholden to ever increasing profit margins that force the paper to make as much money for the parent corporations and shareholders as possible?

Might the consolidation and homogenization of the news media also be part of the problem?

There are quite a few websites out there that publish original content (they raise money in various ways) that would make traditional newspaper editors blush due to the amount of muck and scum they've uncovered...

All I'm trying to point out is that the problems facing the traditional print media are larger than their inability to figure out a "web based" business model.

As the editor of an arts magazine, I can't afford to simply witness the emergence of new models. I'm seeing an increase in think-tank/non-profit style publication, but couldn't say 'that's the answer'. I wrote a little piece considering the print crisis recently - http://dcblog43.com/?p=966 - and agree with your assessment that a new model, or models, will emerge.

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