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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2007 at 2:08 pm

The Death of Paid Newspaper Content

By Robert Gorell
August 7th, 2007

Two great posts articles today with postmortem analysis on the death of paid newspaper content…

First, Publishing 2.0‘s Scott Karp opines the New York Times‘ decision to drop TimesSelect and return to publishing the entirety of its content online — for free. Says Karp:

The ability to charge for content in non-digital media like newspapers, magazines, and cable TV was based on a limited supply of content and monopoly control of distribution. The web and digital media have generated an overabundance of content — not just a spike in high-quality content but, more disruptively, and even larger spike in “pretty good” or “good enough” content. The web has of course utterly destroyed destroyed distribution monopolies. Anyone can create and distribute content on a meaningful scale.

[...] The WSJ.com remains the last great bastion of paid content on the web, and with the News Corp acquisition, the pressure to tear down the walls will likely be too great to resits [sic]. Even if it’s true that the WSJ has the highest quality business content bar none, the web is so awash in good, great, and utterly crappy business content, all free, that WSJ is holding onto its paid subscribers through sheer brand strength alone.

Indeed. Of course, there’s already been plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking about what Murdoch should/can/will do with the Wall Street Journal now that he’s majority shareholder of Dow Jones (DJ), but this Silicon Ally Insider has the best one we’ve seen thus far; a 10-point plan on how to fix Dow Jones from mogul Ted Leonsis, whose very first suggestion is to drop WSJ‘s subscription model in order to scale.

Karp believes mobile is the next frontier for free content, and that long-form video content (e.g., movies) remains safe for now. Regardless, all of this raises the stickiest point of the old media probate battle: Should content be free?

UPDATE: Over at paidContent.org, another great post about the numbers at stake if WSJ were set free.

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Comments (1)

  1. There are some pieces that only large media sites like the WSJ does well. Trend pieces come to mind. Nobody else does that type of in-depth perspective reporting. And it drives a lot of traffic.

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