Jun 4, 2009

Tolls roads on the information superhighway

That media providers will begin charging for online content seems inevitable - whether done through a subscription fee or pay-per click model or some unthoughtof system remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, newspaper companies, because of their steady and steep decline in profits, have been put on the spot to invent a solution for their own survival. But it always seemed to me that they were uniquely unsuited to the task - after all, they spent decades perfecting a system that walled off content from the nasty influences that accompany the chase for profits. The idea, which often gets lost in the monetizing debate, was that reporters and editors would follow the truth wherever it led - to the highest levels of power - something that's hard to do when the dollars head in another direction.

So it's somewhat bittersweet to read that execs at the popular online TV site Hulu are thinking of charging a subscription to view videos there. Bitter because I don't want the freeways of the Internet blocked by tolls; sweet because it's I'd rather see companies simply out for a profit come up with ways to turn online content profitable, and let journalists go back to journalism.

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