I’m quite happy for newspapers to try to charge readers any way
they want. I don’t think “information has to be free” or whatever, I
just don’t think most of them are going to have much luck charging.
Which, honestly. The problem for me with paying for content online isn’t that it’s a violation of the Internet Belief that All Information is Free either, it’s that someone has yet to come up with a way to pay that isn’t a total pain in the fucking balls. $2.95 per article and you HAVE to give them your credit card, or some pathetic charge of $5 per month that leads me to believe you think your content’s only worth a penny or so, or giving away some things but not others, or giving me half the story and then telling me to upgrade, will lead me to click the fuck away pretty fast.
The nice thing about a newspaper subscription is that they bill you, and then you just go get the paper and pick it up and read it without being interrupted. If halfway through the paper every morning I got a phone call asking if I’d like to up my subscription … you better believe I’d be chucking it into the trash. The minute I have to think about the mechanism instead of just consuming the thing is the minute I get really, really, really annoyed, because you are distracting me from the product. This is the natural outgrowth of all our discussions over the past five years here, about how it all comes back to marketing and distribution and if you screw those up doesn’t really matter a whit what your content is.
It has nothing to do with some grand philosophical shift in our information consumption habits. Come up with a way to do this that isn’t a hassle, you’ll have an easier time selling it to people. And by the way, tell me why it’s important, don’t just piss around about how much my generation sucks because of Teh iPods.