Should newspapers collude to charge you $$$$$


How many of Attytood's free readers would pay to read this blog? Anticpating the comments below, I think we all know the answer, even if it was a micropayment of one or two cents. In the greatest case of closing-the-barn-door-too-lateism ever, newspapers that threw all their content on the Web for free in 1997 are trying to figure out how people might pay for all this in 2009.

David Carr of the New York Times thinks that newspapers should be allowed to collude with each other:

“It is time that newspapers are allowed to collude in the public interest,” said Mr. Mutter, who blogs at Reflections of a Newsosaur. “In order to keep as many feet in the street as possible regardless of how they are branded and preserve editorial voices, the new competitive environment has to be considered. The Chronicle competes against The Mercury News, but it also competes against Craigslist, Zillow and Auto Trader.”

Philip Meyer, who wrote “The Vanishing Newspaper,” concurs: “Technology has destroyed the monopolies that these laws were designed to regulate.”

Of course, advocates of the free, independent press are rightfully chary about wholesale deregulation, but John Morton, the eminent newspaper analyst, said that individual newspaper companies can’t solve this problem by working alone.

Collusion, in Carr's world, would allow newspapers to successfuly charge for content on the Web, prevent Google from making money on the backs of the papers, and encourage consolidation so that markets could be served by one strong newsroom rather than two weak ones.

Isn't it pretty to think so? Steve Yelvington has a pretty good reality check on part of Carr's equation: Charging for online content.

 Meanwhile, my pal Greg Mitchell from Editor and Publisher -- check out his new book on the 2008 election -- was on Rachel Maddow to gave a fairly grim assessment of the newspaper world: