Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute appeared on The Daily Show Monday, February 9th, to discuss his recent cover article in Time Magazine about ways to save the dying newspaper industry. During his interview with Jon Stewart, he talks about how he’d like to see on-line versions of newspapers charge for articles in a manner similar to the way iTunes charges for songs. While I don’t condone piracy or copytheft of any kind, I do have two words for Mr. Isaacson: COPY, PASTE
Why do I feel like he’s dug up a dead horse? Barriers to entry for illegal filesharing are minimal at best these days; but circumventing news subscription services is an absolute piece of cake! I can’t think of a single time I have come across an article hiding behind a subscription service, usually mentioned in a forum at a news aggregator like Digg or Fark, where someone didn’t simply copy and paste the content to the forum or other venue for everyone else to see.
Stewart astutely posits the idea of news aggregators, like HuffPo or Drudge Report, giving portions of their ad revenue to sites that they link to, akin to a cable TV model. This seems a much more practical idea than returning to subscription models, but getting aggregators to play ball will be no easy feat. If major aggregators cave, others will crop up that don’t play, and the model will eventually fail.
Maybe journos should follow their broadcast journalism and cinema studies friends, ditch their keyboards, grab a camera and go find some news to shoot. As mentioned, video isn’t much for copypasta. And that’s the sort of thing the MCDM is preaching.