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“The Times,” they are a changin’

Online Business Comments (2)

There’s no doubt that the way Americans get their news is changing. When free news is available on television, the Internet and even on our phones, why would anyone spend money to read it in an actual paper?

Newspaper companies realize that print media is decreasing quickly, as digital media rushes to take its place. Newspapers have been available on their respective Web sites for many years, mostly for free, which analysts believe has much to do with the $11.6 billion loss over the past three years. Because of this huge loss, many newspaper executives are considering charging readers for online news.

Many newspapers already have “tollbooths” on their sites to charge for selected content. For many, the way to get around paying for the news online is to subscribe to the print format, which enables you to access all your news online as well.

It seems like a pretty solid idea until you consider Web sites like Google and Yahoo, which display free stories for the world to see. With all of the news free and readily available, would this idea even work?

The Newspaper Association of America believes that charging for online news will do more harm than good. As said by the Alternative Press, “The subscriptions probably won’t generate enough additional revenue to justify driving away the majority of Internet readers who won’t be willing to ante up.”

Ante up or not, the future of the newspaper industry is bleak. The solution remains unclear, but a hypothesis at the top of the list is that newspapers will have to find their niche.

The theory behind the niche hypothesis is that people will pay for specialized quality on any given topic. Still, the question remains if Americans are willing to pay for the better product when it can be obtained for free at average quality.

andrea @ June 5, 2009

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