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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Get it while you can

Rupert Murdoch goes way out on a limb:

NEW YORK News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch believes that in 10 to 15 years, newspapers will be read mainly on digital devices.

[. . .]

"I think it's two or three years away before they get introduced in a big way, and then it will probably take 10 to 15 years for the public to swing over," he added.

As little as five years ago, this would have been a gutsy prediction. Now, it's just stating the obvious. As a medium for transmitting timely information, paper is just too limited in every way -- too little space to put news you might not even want that is too slow to get to you.

He also said something too true -- newspapers' rush to get content online for free "has been damaging." In fact, it was exceedingly stupid. Imagine if record producers said, "Here you go, dowload this album for free, and, by the way, please give us $15 for the CD version." He predicts that free ride will be over soon -- people are going to have to pay for content. We'll see. For people to be willing to buy it, we first have to stop providing it free. Who's going to have the guts to be first? It will probably require a cooperative arrangement involving all or most content providers, including newspapers, in which all free content is removed at once (i,e, a "vast conspiracy"). It's a "don't know what you got till it's gone" thing.


Sat, 05/30/2009 - 12:52pm

Oh, I think the antitrust "conspiracy" already tried to happen:

Newspapers Gather In Secret (With An Antitrust Lawyer) To Collude Over Paywalls

Newspapers have existed on a business model that worked well as long as a better, cheaper method of transferring information to the masses didn't exist.

The internet now exists, and it's not going away. That business model is well past dead.

(Besides, how is it radio, TV and cable all seem to do pretty well giving away information for "free," while we're at it?)

Actually, record producers et. al. tried to yell at people to stop downloading (and home taping before that) while demanding people still pay $15 for a little plastic disc. We see how well that is working.

Smarter folks like Trent Reznor, Radiohead and others decided to find better business models instead. And they're doing well.

Just because an old business model and industry has existed doesn't mean it will always in the same form. Or that it even has to.

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

- Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line (1939)