Information doesn’t want to be free (any more).

One of the things I am most interested in is the eroding business model for newspapers, and the failure of anything compelling to come along that will sustain quality international news – which is costly and probably can’t be done by citizen journalists (alone). Assuming I manage to do this for any period of time it will have a lot about this subject, and attempts – successes and failures – to square the circle.

Interesting piece by David Carr in the New York Times  about the search for new business models for media. “Is there a way to reverse the broad expectation that information, including content assembled and produced by professionals, should be free?” he asks. The music industry, after all, “in which people once paid handsomely for records, then tapes, then CDs… was overtaken by the expectation that the same product should be free. [Steve] Jobs saw music as something else — as an ancillary software business to generate sales of the iPods and iPhones. That’s not a perspective that flattered people in the music business, but it did persuade listeners to pay for their wares.”

So far, most international news is free at the point of consumption, and the result is the industry is dying; and people are losing their jobs and not getting new ones, and the quality of news is suffering. So what to do?

One answer is a new website,, set up by Charles Sennott, a former Boston Globe reporter. “The free Web site, supported by ads, went live Monday and will offer regular dispatches for an American audience to supplement coverage from news organizations still covering the world. GlobalPost also will sell stories to papers to run in print or online”, reports the Herrald Tribune.

“For financial support, GlobalPost is counting on a combination of online advertising revenue, syndication deals with online and newspaper partners, and a soon-to-be-introduced membership system called Passport,” reports something called Xconomy. Individual Passport memberships will cost $199 per year and will provide access to “exclusive content on key economic and political events”—including monthly newsletters, short text alerts on breaking news, and live conference calls with correspondents—that won’t be available to readers of the free site.” (what is Xconomy? Note to self: go back and check it out properly).

In the grubby world of actually existing newspapers, the Daily Telegraph is to send its subbing to an Australian company, Pagemasters. Didn’t Aussie subs used to come to London to do this anyway?


One Response to Information doesn’t want to be free (any more).

  1. paul Murphy says:

    Very interesting — thanks for that.

    You may also be interested in this from the New York mag:

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