December 27, 2012

Morning Line: How old media pay walls may help the Internet grow

Sam Smith - Having lived through - and participated in - the birth of the alternative press of the 1960s and the Internet media that kick started in the 1990s, I sometimes have a sense of media change that that is hard to verbalize but feel is coming. Lately, it's been the rise of old media pay walls that have poked me. As Poynter noted the other day:
“More than 360 United States papers will charge for digital content by the end of the year, says News & Tech, including Gannett, Tribune, MediaNews, Media General papers now owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and of course The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Coming next year are E.W. Scripps, McClatchy and others.”
David Carr in the New York Times commented, "It is going be a dogfight for the small number of consumers who are willing to pay. Many newspapers, crippled by years of disinvestment, will not be able to make a compelling argument that they are providing something worth paying for. And life inside that sort of gated community could get mighty lonely."

Here's what's driving the change:
It's not the fate of the Washington Post or McClarchy that interests me, but rather the fact that the big bullies of the media are running behind locked doors, which means, among other things, they can't mess up the Internet as they once did.

Part of the premise of the 1960s alternative press was that the big media was irrelevant, especially since they did such a terrible job of telling the truth. Like the Internet, the typical underground paper back then was free, handed out right next to the news box with the NY Times or whatever. 

Getting the dull, the dead wrong and the degenerate media off the free bandwidth of the web won't hurt. It will likely encourage a more vibrant alternative  online press just as occurred in the 1960s. 

So, have fun behind your pay walls, folks. We won't miss you at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article, Sam.

My feelings exactly.

The right to publish was a sacred trust. The old print media betrayed that trust. If, now, they want to hide behind a pay-iron-curtain, let them.

The free world has no need for them.