Thursday, February 05, 2009

These Guys Say "Charge!"

By making the content of its website available only to paid subscribers, Wendy McCaw's News-Press has been one of the notable exceptions to the general rule in the newspaper industry, which is that online stories are made available for free.

And, with all but a handful of papers giving their content away, few are willing to buck the trend of not charging for web access.

Entrepreneur/journalist Steve Brill recently told the American Journalism Review that "newspapers have basically destroyed themselves by giving it away for free." He called the unwillingness of most to charge for visiting their websites "totally insane."

Brill's quote, comes from Tim Rutten's op-ed page column in the LA Times yesterday. Surprisingly, Rutten agrees with Brill.

In fact Rutten goes on to make the case that Congress ought to give newspapers an antitrust exemption so that they could "sit down and negotiate an agreement on how to scale prices (for access to their websites) and, then, to begin imposing them simultaneously."

Wouldn't Wendy love that.

Rutten reasons that by charging, newspapers could continue to finance professional journalism which is in danger of disappearing because the advertising dollars that ultimately support are fast disappearing.

For my money, Rutten is one of the most sagacious observers of media around, but I don't think the idea of granting an antitrust exemption to a bunch of wealthy newspaper owners is viable. In fact, it's about as dead as the fish that wind up getting wrapped into yesterday's paper.

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Richard Mineards new column debuts today in the Montecito Journal. It has been dubbed "Montecito Miscellany." and Mineards has promised to kick it off with a couple of nice scoops.

Mineards has also recently signed with Creative Management Group in New York City for purposes of representing him professionally.

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For those of us who may be experiencing "Film Fest withdrawal syndrome," the third weekend of the festival starts tonight (Thursday) with an 8 pm screening of Amar a Morir at the Metro on State Street.

One of my favorite films from the festival, Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times, will be shown Sunday at 1 pm the Riviera Theater.

The complete Third Weekend schedule can be found here.

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I will be the guest this morning of Adam and Spencer on the KJEE Morning Show (92.9 FM) starting around 8 am.

Not quite sure what to expect, but it should be fun.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and