March 16, 2009

What is Bad for Newspapers Might be Good for the World.... David Carr has a piece in the New York Times today - "United, Newspapers May Stand," where he envisions a world in which the heads of newspapers all get together to hold hands and unanimously decide to work together and declare.... No more free content. The Web has become the primary delivery mechanism for quality newsrooms across the country, and consumers will have to participate in financing the newsgathering process if it is to continue. Setting the price point at free — the newspaper analyst Alan D. Mutter called it the “original sin” — has brought the industry millions of eyeballs and a return that doesn’t cover the coffee budget of some newsrooms. I don't take sides in the old media vs. new media debate. I think we have LOTS to lose if newspapers go under. But I also think there is an inflated sense of self-worth in this article. Not because I believe citizen journalism can fully replace traditional newsrooms - but because of what the world has gained by making news content free online. Yes - putting content online for free has caused economic problems for newspapers - but it has made mankind better. How many people have been informed because newspaper content was made available online for free? How many people made better decisions because they were engaged in online conversations - that reacted to newspaper content? How many young people learned to appreciate high quality journalism because it was easy to access? Of course - the...

David Cohn

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