Memo to newspapers: Please, please follow Murdoch example.

Would it be safe to say that we could be looking at either the revival of fee charging online newspapers that will nickel and dime us for the piecemeal delivery of news, or could we be seeing the signing of their own death warrants. With the news from the News Industry Mount and the lips of it’s most powerful mouthpiece the new commandments of how online news will make its money has been pronounced by the mighty Rupert Murdoch.

In all the news last week was his announcement that all News Corp properties would start instituting a paywall of varying degrees and if you wanted anything beyond the fluff they deign to be free then you had better be ready to start coughing up more than your outrage.

For England this sill start with The Times and Sunday Times as soon as November, with the rest of the UK titles getting all dressed up with paywall access by June 2010. In the US Murdoch plans on using the model that the Wall Street Journal does for News Corp properties in the States – totally ignoring the fact that the WSJ actually produces enough quality and unique content that it is worth paying for. The same can not be said for 99% of the rest of the papers in the US let alone the ones controlled by Murdoch.

The thing is that we are approaching a point where it is a case of shit or get off the pot for the newspaper industry. IT is time for both them and us, the consumers, to once and for all make it clear which model is going to work when it comes to the collection and dissemination of the news. Will it be the Murdoch’s of the world with their billion dollar empires that are built around deciding what news deserves to get published and as a result increase their profit margins.

Or will it be the world of journalists, and their recently discovered brethren the bloggers and other citizen reporters, who believe that the news is free but discover new and different ways to use their skill and knowledge to earn a living at the same time.

Martin Bryant says in a post on

So, it’s a case of ‘Work for free and die’ or ‘Charge and probably die’.

I don’t think it is either because that is assuming that there aren’t other business models that negate either of those two options – we just haven’t found them yet; but that doesn’t mean they are out there. Nor does it mean that news has to be distributed the same old Murdoch way that involves charging readers for the right to read News Corps interpretation of the news.

In the end I hope that every single newspaper out there decides to follow the Murdoch way and start slapping up paywalls. Then we’ll see exactly how much people are willing to pay over and over for the same news from different organizations. If anything this move to institute paywalls may actually force the issue in such a way that as people have to decide who of all the newspapers that are available globally is worthy of any money from their limited resources.

This forcing of the paywall system could have the opposite effect of hastening the demise of newspapers because they are to concerned with maintaining their status quo rather than trying to discover new and better ways of monetizing what is basically nothing more than a distribution chain.

So please all you newspaper editors and owners go right ahead and institute paywalls and the sooner the better so we can get this stupid argument settled once and for all.

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