While it used to seem like the death knell was only sounding for print newspapers, it’s recently become clear that magazines and books are also hurting (e.g., HarperCollins just dumped Collins). Former editor of Time magazine Walter Isaacson currently has a cover story in his old magazine optimistically titled, “How To Save Your Newspaper.”
Mr. Isaacson essentially argues that the notion that began print media’s move to the internet – that content on the internet should be free – must be abandoned. It was originally thought that this content could be supported through ad revenue but not only is this not sustainable, as we’re now discovering, it creates a relationship where the creator is tied to the interests of the advertisers instead of the reader. Mr. Isaac says that online readers need to start paying piecemeal for content they want, like they do on iTunes. During his interview with Jon Stewart, Jon suggests that newspapers adopt a radio or cable model, where the aggregators (Drudge Report, Daily Beast, this blog), pay a fee to the creator to “rebroadcast” their content and the user pays a fee to have access to the aggregator’s content (like when you pay a fee to your cable company to get all of Viacom’s stations).
The Wall Street Journal still charges for all of it’s online content and the Old Grey Lady recently announced they may go back to charging for some or all online content after previously abondoning a fee for select content.
It’s clear something has to be done to save quality writing and journalism, as noted during the Daily Show interview (paraphrased), ‘somebody’s gotta pay to send journalists to Iraq.‘