Should online news sites take away the "Free"?

By Matter

One of my Sunday rituals is to get-up, make a pot of coffee and watch CBS’ Sunday Morning. With my tivo intact, I can’t say I watch it “live” every week, but love knowing it is there when I need it. This past week’s program caught my interest with its “Free for All, Profit for Some” story and got me thinking.

As you may know, The Associated Press and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation both said this past week that they hope to rein in the internet free-for-all . . . and get more users to PAY for online information. While this would be a big inconvenience for all of us, especially in PR, I think it is worth a discussion. As a publicist, I tend to scan for news all day and night, visiting multiple news sites all over the world, for free. The “for free” part makes my life and others extremely easy, but more and more publications are closing there doors due to low ad-revenues, while we are able to sit back and search for content at no cost. If all the publications created a hub, and offered a certain amount of content on a subscription basis, they would probably generate enough funds to create jobs, sustain its print component and become profitable again. Some experts say that iTunes “saved” the music industry, by generating a new revenue channel. Don’t you think its time for the media industry to try and “save” our resources? 

The thought of another historically paper “dying out” or a glossy magazine that I’ve read since a teen is no longer in print is a bit depressing to me, what about you?  Would you pay?  Just something to think about.