Thursday, May 07, 2009

Charging for News Content Online

Mediabistro’s newsletter on Thursday carries a story from The Daily Beast that details Rupert Murdoch’s plan to charge fees for accessing online news periodicals. The article, “Murdoch’s Secret Plan to Charge for Content,” succinctly lays out the situation: “Now, The Daily Beast has learned, Murdoch’s News Corp. has set up a global team, based in New York, London, and Sydney, to create a system for charging for online content in an environment where consumers have come to expect to get it for free.”

I would love to say that I think everything on the internet should be free—but I can’t. For good journalism to exist—journalism that uncovers stories and delved deeply into the implications of the headlines—there need to be skilled journalists. And skilled journalists need to be paid. I am terrified of a world where everyone checks their Twitter news feed for current events: “US invades Iran. People are hurt.”; “Dan Rather died. He was a news anchor.”; or “Paris’ new purse matches her dog AND her shoes.” Or, worse yet, more pervasive advertising. How does this strike you as a headline: “FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats—Brought to you by Scotts Miracle Grow, for a weed-free lawn!”

The bottom line is that to prevent the watering down of news content and journalistic integrity, consumers of journalism have got to somehow support news sources financially. So, for once, I’m on the same side as Fox. Yikes.

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