Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paying for the news

My NU colleague Dan Kennedy, who runs the well-read blog "Media Nation," commented yesterday on another Globe column by  Lou Ureneck, the chairman of the BU Journalism Department. The topic -- should the news be free? We're not talking philosophy here, we're talking pay walls -- rather than click on a story to read it, you would have to pay for it. 

From the BU side of the Mass Pike:

The “news wants to be free’’ contingent doesn’t understand how markets work, and its members aren’t relying on news-organization salaries to put food on their tables or their children through college. “Free’’ is an ideological position, not a sustainable system for the production of expensive journalism.

From over on Huntington Avenue, Dan agrees that someone need to pay for the news, but argues that pay walls aren't the way to do it. 
...Ureneck calls for online pay walls, and I suspect those of us who oppose such things are the target of his “news wants to be free” observation. The reality, though, is that we don’t oppose pay walls out of ideology. Rather, it’s that they would destroy the value of the sharing culture that defines the Web. More to the point, they wouldn’t work, because there would continue to be a host of free, good-enough alternatives.

For more on the debate over the search for a news business model for news, see the Poynter Institute.

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