This week the New York Times terminated TimesSelect, its paid news service, causing ripples galore. Subscriptions had slowed down, and they are betting that increased advertising income will more than compensate for the loss of revenue.
In the early days of the web, paid subscriptions for electronic content were not uncommon. In fact, a goodly bunch of interested people used to pay $80 for a weekly email newsletter from me. (Maybe you did â€” thank you!) The business model for web sites was unclear: banner advertising was soon all the go, and instantly became a mixed blessing. A few years later, the writing was on the wall and the web: on the whole, content must be free.
Rick Edmonds in Poynter Online says in so many words, Get over it:
If paid news content doesn't play as a business proposition in the Big Apple and for the Times' elite national audience, why think it would succeed anywhere else? So let's drop the curtain on this oft-floated scenario (get online readers to pay) for saving the industry â€“- for now and maybe forever.
But if people won't pay for top-of-the-line news, what respectable written content will they pay for?
Speaking for myself I pay for premium industry reports and the occasional tutorial or webinar.
Surely there must be more? A Friday morning blank engulfs me.
What written content have you paid for recently? Premium inside information for lobbyists? Love poems on Second Life?
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