February 5, 2012
Richard J. Tofel has written a 30-page essay entitled Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future. In it, he drags out the tired old theory that newspapers have shot themselves in the foot by giving away content on the Internet. If only — if only — they had charged from the beginning, they wouldn’t be in the financial mess they find themselves in today.
News flash: a lot of newspapers have tried charging money for their content over the years. They stopped because it didn’t work. People refused to pay. So newspapers tried other strategies. I’m not saying they’re necessarily good strategies, and who knows if we’ll ever find our way.
But — holy doodle! — if even one newspaper site had been able to make money with paid content in the ’90s, I guarantee the rest of them would have jumped on the bandwagon.