A Batter’s Slump

“Newspapers (and magazines) must band together to create an industry-wide standard for paid content, even in aggregation form.” – Paul, a comment poster on a NYT blog

Poynter Online’s  Maurreen Skowran offered a useful synopsis of comments in her column today. The New York Times asked readers (via the Battle Plan for Newspapers blog) what they think should be done to help newspapers survive.

Although there were a variety of comments, the majority centered on the need to have readers pay for viewing newspapers online.

Swing and a miss!

Newspapers have tried this. While this idea seems obvious and practical, it just hasn’t worked.

Those commenting on the blog offered some vague promises that they would pay for the articles they are currently getting for free. Unfortunately, several newspapers have put this promise to the test only to discover that it is hollow.

I agree with the commenter cited above, to some extent. Yes, readers would pay for online newspapers if that was the only option. But would all of the current online readers get on board? Not a chance.

As I mentioned before, bloggers would be all-to-pleased to play the spoilers. Offering up information pulled from an online newspaper article that non-subscribers cannot read would only enhance their viewership.

Additionally, these bloggers, who undoubtably would interject their own opinions in their posts, would color the news. Without the standard of objectivity newspapers strive to achieve, readers would begin spouting uninformed opinions based on incomplete information.

I wish I could say that I have the answer. But I do think we need to head back to the batting cages and remember to keep our eye on the ball.

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