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Google To Offer Micropayments To News Sites 155

Posted by timothy
from the much-much-nicer-than-a-horse-head dept.
CWmike writes "Google is promoting a payment system to the newspaper industry that would let Web surfers pay a small amount for individual news stories, an idea that could help publishers struggling with the impact of the Internet. The plans were revealed in a document Google submitted to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), which had solicited ideas for how to monetize content online, a task some publishers have had difficulty with. 'The idea is to allow viable payments of a penny to several dollars by aggregating purchases across merchants,' Google said in the document. Google said it had no specific products to announce yet."
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Google To Offer Micropayments To News Sites

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  • Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stuarticus (1205322) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:15AM (#29388039)

    Let me start by paying nothing for this one, I'll gladly give Murdoch even less.

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:56AM (#29388265) Homepage Journal

      If there is no advertising, I'll pay. But if there are ads, let the advertisers pay. I'm paying for content by looking at ads, if you want me to pay cash for your content you're going to have to give me a clean, ad-free page that doesn't blink and flash.

      Funny, the Illinois Times [illinoistimes.com], a weekly Springfield paper, doesn't even charge for its print version. If they can make money from advertising alone, why can't other papers? It's ludicrous that anyone wants me to pay for a web page that blinks and flashes.

      And as long as there are online papers that don't charge, good luck charging. As long as there are free sources for news, why would anyone pay?

      • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fredrik70 (161208) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:28AM (#29388523) Homepage

        If it were only that simple, I always thought I should support the sites I look at byt not disabling the ads with an ad blocker, but lately it's been pretty much impossible to look at most news sites I go to as all those flash ads causes my browser and computer to crawl. Yes, bit old computer (Athlon - 64 3000+) but I shouldn't have to update my bloody computer just to be able to read some web pages!
        So, in the end, I installed Adblock and everythiong jsut works! fantastic! I am still allowing ads on slashdot to show though as it's not enough of them to cause too much harm.
        Anyway, if they made flash less intrusive when it comes to CPU hogging I'd appily live with it, but now it's pretty much a joke

        • It's even worse on site which actually use flash. The company I rent DVDs from recently launched a streaming service using flash. Unfortunately, they also show flash adverts which, on the 1.5GHz G4 I have plugged in to my projector, means that I can only watch the video without frames dropping if none of the ads are visible. Or if I use a click-to-flash plugin, of course, then the whole thing becomes sane again. I don't use an ad blocker, but if you are going to use flash for your ads then all I will se
        • I am still allowing ads on slashdot to show though as it's not enough of them to cause too much harm.

          I tried using slashdot without the ads - I use the web site daily and have no problem giving some mindshare to discrete textual ads at a place like this. Unfortunately, every time I try to uncheck the 'ads disabled' checkbox, within two-three page hits I see something in Flash that is either blinking, flashing, or moving at me. It seems that "discrete" simply isn't good enough any more.

          • by cpghost (719344)

            Unfortunately, every time I try to uncheck the 'ads disabled' checkbox, within two-three page hits I see something in Flash that is either blinking, flashing, or moving at me.

            On my Flash-unsupported FreeBSD/amd64 box, it just shows as a blanked out rectangle for which a non-existent plug-in is missing. Sometimes, being unsupported by Adobe can be a bliss.

            • Unfortunately, every time I try to uncheck the 'ads disabled' checkbox, within two-three page hits I see something in Flash that is either blinking, flashing, or moving at me.

              On my Flash-unsupported FreeBSD/amd64 box, it just shows as a blanked out rectangle for which a non-existent plug-in is missing. Sometimes, being unsupported by Adobe can be a bliss.

              True, but not really the point - I mean, it's easy to turn them off in any case. But I'd much rather sites started to buy a clue and stop accepting that kind of content. Until they do, I keep blocking.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I was referring to flash, not Flash. Having ads blinking and moving on the same page I'm trying to read is too damned distracting.

        • by mounthood (993037)

          If it were only that simple, I always thought I should support the sites I look at byt not disabling the ads with an ad blocker, but lately it's been pretty much impossible to look at most news sites I go to as all those flash ads causes my browser and computer to crawl.

          FlashBlock, instead of AdBlock, works really well as a compromise to allow adds and still have access to Flash on a page. YMMV. For real change we need a way to give a vote or feedback on AD *companies* so they'll force the advertisers to behave; for example, zedo.com uses pop-up's so ban all their AD's.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mejogid (1575619)
        I don't believe it's reasonable to expect all papers to be funded by advertisers. Things like investigative journalism, sending journalists to press conferences, researched opinion pieces and the like *are* expensive, and somebody needs to fund them. Free (gratis not libre) press only exists because of the paid press and the likes of the AP/Reuters who do the initial research. People definitely pay for a higher quality of news coverage online - look at Bloomberg. Granted that's a niche, but I personally
        • I don't see why AP doesn't do this instead of google. Then allow AP to agregate news from the locals and pay them the micro-payment. Essentially, my subscription to AP (which I'm more likely to do than a subscription to google) also accesses the local news. I don't see why the news industry would want to give google probably half or more of the money that they are doing the work for. This also helps prevent google from becoming another evil microsoft. We need to discourage mega-corp's, too big to fail syndr

        • by geekoid (135745)

          "I don't believe it's reasonable to expect all papers to be funded by advertisers. Things like investigative journalism, sending journalists to press conferences, researched opinion pieces and the like *are* expensive, and somebody needs to fund them."

          why not advertisers?

          Is the problem that advertiser are being charged the appropriate amount? Is it becasue epopel are realizing that ads don't deliver nearly as much extra business as previously thought?
          The except is immediate response adds. For example The ju

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've never really understood this reasoning, people pay for magazines, newspapers, movies,... with a lot of ads in them. But all of the sudden when it's on the internet it has to be either pay, or ads.

        I find it completely reasonable that ads make something cheaper, but not necessarily free.

      • If there is no advertising, I'll pay.

        Then why are we still paying for copies of classic newspapers and magazines even though they have ads in them? Why am I paying for the TV channels I get on cable even though they come with advertising? Why pay admission to a concert AND see ads to various brands everywhere on the grounds?

        I like the idea, but are customer pay-per-item and ads really mutually exclusive? And if there's some kind of revolution in the making, what is it? Are we finally saying 'no' to advertis

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          Then why are we still paying for copies of classic newspapers and magazines even though they have ads in them?

          Because an ad on page 47 of the magazine can't force itself onto page 12 where I am reading.

          If the ads on web pages were like those in newspapers and magazines, then I wouldn't need an ad blocker.

      • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yppupcinataS'> on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:48AM (#29388689) Journal

        Wow, an indie weekly that is ad supported? How imaginative! It's certainly different from every other ad supported indie weekly!

        The problem is, indie weeklies have crap news. If you want to know what band is playing at what club, you can check the weekly. If you want free personal ads, you can check the weekly. If you want well researched news articles about the place where you live, you're outta luck. They may have a couple of op-ed pieces, with-- maybe--one source, and, if you're lucky, the source will actually be a reliable source.

        I actually used to run an indie weekly, so I know that of which I speak. Tiny staff, constant pressure to get ads, no ability to tell off an advertiser...I mean, if you were getting ads from the Religious Right, you couldn't write op eds about them, because the money was more important than your integrity. Having to do your own collections; getting paid in fricking barter from small advertisers. It's not a great business.

        Your argument is like something I'd imagine hearing when cable companies were starting up. "Who's going to pay for TV?" Answer: people who want more than what you can get in a model that is completely reliant on ad revenue. If your customer is the advertiser, then you are beholden to the advertiser. If your customer is an individual who pays then you have some independence.

        • If your customer is the advertiser, then you are beholden to the advertiser. If your customer is an individual who pays then you have some independence.

          Mod parent up! This is a truth that is too frequently overlooked in Slashdot conversations.

        • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cornicefire (610241) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:41AM (#29389199)
          "Who's going to pay for TV?" Answer: people who want more than what you can get in a model that is completely reliant on ad revenue. If your customer is the advertiser, then you are beholden to the advertiser. If your customer is an individual who pays then you have some independence.
          Peter Wayner gave a talk at Google about helping to pay for shoe leather several years ago:

          http://www.wayner.org/talks/gtalk.html [wayner.org]

          This is the major problem with the free-only ecology. A friend of mine sat me down when I first started writing a book and explained that it was a very different process than writing a long, long magazine article. The newspapers and magazines, he explained, have two loyalties: the subscribers and the advertisers. Both pay the bills. The job for a newspaper or magazine writer is to attract the kind of audience that will make the advertisers happy.
          A book, however, is sold directly to the reader. The writer's loyalty is to the audience first and last. There's no complicated dance with an advertiser. That's why books continue to be the preferred ways for someone who really has a strong message to deliver. It's a medium built for Anne Coulters, the Dan Browns and the Popes. There's no editorial hand wringing or demands for "balance" to get in the way. There's a very tight feedback loop.
          The free information ecology is the exact opposite. The same picky consumer who could make book authors dance has very little leverage over the free ecology. The free economy can only be dominated by those who get their rent money from other sources. Sometimes this won't affect their writing, but many times it will. The problem is that the free ecology doesn't have the feedback loop. The reader doesn't have the same leverage with the creator. Sometimes it may work out well, but in most cases, the creator will take care of the one who pays the bills first. It's just how the world has to work.

        • What if your customer was both?

          Why not get rid of newspapers and just have the journalists. The journalists write the stories where their market is. So the journalist writes for the customer. Then an aggrigator, like Google hosts the articles. Google is responsible for getting advertisers. They know exactly how many people are viewing the page and they know where they are viewing the page from so they can target the advertising. They then split the ad revenue with the journalist based on views and a
        • (Meme)I like your ideas and I want to hear more about your weekly. (/Meme)

        • by geekoid (135745)

          But when speaking about web site, there are so many possible advertiser, and many with opposite views.
          Or you have generic ad feeders that don't really care what's on your site.

          An indie paper relies on advertisers in the community, web sites do not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          The problem is, indie weeklies have crap news.

          Well lets see, this issue of the IT has "The Governor blames everybody but himself" about his new book; "Remembering Everett Dirksen"; "Haunted hot spots"; "Headmaster's visit" about Obama; "Order in the court" about crime; "East side residents fear a steel barrier at 10th Street" about the high speed rail coming here; "New law prohibits involuntary sterilization"; "High-speed opposition to Third Street rail corridor" among others.

          What are the SJ-R's [sj-r.com] headlines t

      • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by paiute (550198) on Friday September 11, 2009 @11:13AM (#29389575)

        Yeah, remember how there weren't going to have to be any ads on cable television, because we were already going to be paying for it once?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          There weren't when it first started, the only ads were on the brodcast stations. Then they started running ads on cable stations, now they have the goddamned logo at the bottom right of the screen and the fucktardedly annoying ads for other shows that show up at the other side while the damned show is still on.

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siloko (1133863) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:57AM (#29388279)

      Let me start by paying nothing for this one

      and I guess your sentiment will be echoed by a lot of people. All we can really do is let the industry die and THEN see if it is so valuable that it needs resurrecting. The fact that newspaper conglomerates keep harping on about how necessary they are for the proper functioning of democracy means nothing to me without evidence and I'm afraid the only evidence that counts is a failed industry followed by a failed democracy. I don't see the later happening any time soon (well no more than is already the case!).

      • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:17AM (#29388435) Homepage

        I am interested in your necromancy approach to dying industries, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
        But only if it's free.

      • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dnahelicase (1594971) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:28AM (#29388515)

        All we can really do is let the industry die and THEN see if it is so valuable that it needs resurrecting. The fact that newspaper conglomerates keep harping on about how necessary they are for the proper functioning of democracy means nothing to me

        I don't think the industry will ever die, just the conglomerates . Before they were around there were hundreds of newspapers that served the very local needs they were in. I just moved to a small town and what is in my newspaper? A bunch of AP crap that I can get from any other newspaper or website in any form I want. I generally don't care about the AP stories anyway. As big newspapers die, new forms of media and journalism will grow to feed the needs of the community. They aren't falling victim to the tyrants of the internet - they are failing to adjust their mindsets to a changing consumer market.

        I'm not going to pay to look at national ads that I see everywhere, but I don't mind paying a small subscription to read local news and also get presented with ads for local retailers.

      • The fact that newspaper conglomerates keep harping on about how necessary they are for the proper functioning of democracy means nothing to me without evidence and I'm afraid the only evidence that counts is a failed industry followed by a failed democracy.

        Newspaper conglomerates aren't necessary for democracy, but objective journalism is. Let me lay it out for you.

        • Democracy relies on people voting
        • To vote well, people need reliable information. (Case in point: how do you even know who's running for Congres
        • by DarKnyht (671407)

          Part of the reason that most of us don't value good news is because most of us have never seen "good" news. What we have seen is what you described where papers, magazines, news shows, etc. are beholden to their corporate holders/corporate interests or even their own slanted views.

          I and many others like me grew up seeing as news is little more than cheerleading their chosen side with facts that make them look good, while mostly ignoring the facts that don't and/or putting so much spin on the story that the

      • by Ster (556540)

        All we can really do is let the industry die and THEN see if it is so valuable that it needs resurrecting.

        Ah, so you've been reading Girl Genius [girlgeniusonline.com] too?

        -Ster

      • by spasm (79260)

        I guess it's not too much of a surprise that on an American-based and dominated website people aren't remembering the major media role played by the government in many other parts of the free world - think BBC, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission, not the US network), CBC etc. Most of whom provide extremely high quality reporting for very very little money (in the late 1980s the ABC cost Australians 2 cents per day each in tax revenue), and deliver most of it without advertising.

    • Ahh the glory that is bugmenot.com. Only in a handful of cases have I found a pay site without a login on there.

    • Not a bad idea, really. I read news from all sources. I even read *gasp* news sources that are hostile to my government and my country!!

      I'd be willing to drop a penny here and there. A nickle for a good story, maybe. At the same time, I'll be more than happy to use bandwidth without paying at those sites that just suck.

      Though, I'm sure that the manner in which it actually works won't be to my liking. I would probably lose news sources, or find that I have to pay to use the ones I don't agree with. Tha

  • That's not going to work in a "cut-n-paste email" world.

    • by jimbolauski (882977) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:30AM (#29388097) Journal
      And besides who RTFA anyway.
    • by darthflo (1095225) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:35AM (#29388131)

      Why not? As long as the process is quick and painless and the cost low enough (i.e. a few cents), I wouldn't mind that one click to read the full article with images and everything (and without ads).

      It's similar to the model of those boxes containing a stack of newspaper to which you get access by inserting a quarter or two. Of course, one could get the whole stack and distribute it for free; but in reality most people will just get one paper (i.e. read the article) and get on with their lives.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:54AM (#29388257)

        The problem is I don't trust the computer with my money. Even though I might be willing to pay a reasonable small amount for some articles, I do not trust linking my payment information to a mouseclick.

        There's been many stories of people running up astronomical phone bills because their phone used costly services in the background with no easy means of knowing what it is doing and what it is costing. I need to be assured that the computer will never run amok with my money - or worse - rack up bills on credit that I then have to pay, whether or not I might have had the money for it.

        There is needs to be a built-in stop. In real-life, for example, paying cash, it is very hard to accidentally spend without knowing that you are spending and how much. Even paying by credit card, the bank will call and verify if there's a unusual series of transactions, which serves to limit the financial damage in the event of a "bug". Micropayments needs to solve this problem (for example, by using pre-issued time-time-use cryptographic tokens in lieu of serial-numbered bills) before I am comfortable trusting financial access to a general-purpose web-browsing computer. I suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way.

        • by mrdoogee (1179081)

          I would trust my money ( Heck, I do trust my money) to a ITMS style micropayment model. Whenever I buy something from the iTunes store it prompts me for my password and then after the fact emails me a reciept. If Apple can do it, Google can do it.

          Of course, do I WANT to pay to see news stories on the web? No I don't. But I could see that someone might.

  • I like it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:23AM (#29388071)

    Much like the moderation system on Slashdot, I will use my "mod points" sparingly.

    Specifically to the non-retarded journalists that can use a fucking spell checker, actually look for glaring grammatical mistakes, and just plain, what-are-you-blind-?-fuck-ups.

    If I am going to pay for a news article I want it to be written so well the words feel like "wiping my ass with silk".

    Ohhh, and I want to be able to take back money from journalists who write anything about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and their respective twats.

    P.S - A *very* important feature. I want a checkbox that says, "at no time will your money ever go to Rupert Murdoch".

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Specifically to the non-retarded journalists that can use a fucking spell checker

      Dew knot thrust yore spill chucker.

      I don't want to read spell-checked words, I want to read words that have been written by someone literate who knows how to spell in the first place, and checked for typos by professional proofreaders. Your spell checker doesn't know the difference between lose and loose, and if you don't either there's no way in hell I'll pay to read your stuff.

      • Dew knot thrust yore spill chucker.

        How many spills can a spill chucker chuck, if you put a dew knot in it before thrusting?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      My only issue is cost. I have no problem with paying for content as long as they're reasonable (i.e. no more than a few cents per story). But I have a funny feeling they won't be reasonable. I suspect the clueless newspapers will try to charge $1 or more for a single story, trying to railroad everyone into an overpriced "all you can eat" subscription.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Nah I doubt it. Considering News sites generate ALOT of traffic (Heard a rumour its second only to pornography, but thats just a rumour) they could charge 1 penny a page and still make a killing.

        • by jfengel (409917)

          > they could charge 1 penny a page and still make a killing. ... as long as the overhead costs don't eat it up. The micropayments provider has overhead of their own (dealing with credit cards, fraud, maintaining accounts, bills, hosting, etc.) If they want to charge $.005 per transaction, that's half your "killing". If they need $.009 per transaction, what's left isn't worth much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      P.S - A *very* important feature. I want a checkbox that says, "at no time will your money ever go to Rupert Murdoch".

      Rupert Murdoch published Fight Club despite his own personal dislike for the moral of the story (no surprise that he'd dislike the moral since it was aimed squarely at him and his ilk). The guy ain't all bad.

      • by the_womble (580291) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:24AM (#29388483) Homepage Journal

        Not ALL bad. I would say about 99% bad.

      • P.S - A *very* important feature. I want a checkbox that says, "at no time will your money ever go to Rupert Murdoch".

        Rupert Murdoch published Fight Club despite his own personal dislike for the moral of the story (no surprise that he'd dislike the moral since it was aimed squarely at him and his ilk). The guy ain't all bad.

        And he did that on the general principle of it, rather than "Hm. This calls people like me out for being soulless bastards who'd sell our own mothers for a sawbuck... but I bet it goes best-seller!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          He's in business. that is the general principle of it.

          • Touche.

            But the point stands: That was a shitty example of something that suggest the guy's "not all bad," rather than proving the book's point.

  • Yay! No more ads! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe U (443617) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:24AM (#29388077) Homepage Journal

    Since they're getting paid already, that means the banner and intrusive flash ads on news sites will stop, right?

    (Sure it will)

  • by techsoldaten (309296) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:34AM (#29388117) Journal
    Maybe I am the only one, but I subscribe to the paper version of the NY Times and read the paper online. What I pay to them for the subscription covers the cost of my online access to their editorial writers. I read different things from the paper and the online version, it's a different experience. Something that occured to me is that the semantic web may be a way to effectively monetize online news. People come to news sites for different reasons. The casual user needs access to the latest news, and that should always be free. The researcher, the people who want more detailed information are the ones who have the most incentive to pay for news content. Presenting them with related content that goes beyond stories, that dives into databases and other forms of content would be an interesting model to work with. It would be great to actually view source material that was annotated in some way, get access to related video, pull up figures and statistics cited in the article, and more. Again, a different experience. I don't care to pay to read an editorial by some jerk I don't agree with, I would pay for in-depth coverage that is free from partisan slant and gives me access to source data so I can make up my own mind. Call it news plus. M
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      I would pay for in-depth coverage that is free from partisan slant

      Uh... the NYT? You're already choosing to pay for slanted partisan coverage, so why should I believe you when you claim otherwise? It's far easier and safer for me to sell you tables of inflated Iraq body count figures and "it's teh OIL stupid!!!" exposes and just label it "fair and balanced".

      You know, business as usual.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      That reminds me of how the US court documents public access system works, where the indexing information is essentially free, and the cost of maintaining the extensive parts of the archive is offset by a $0.02/page (or thereabouts) document viewing fee which is charged $10-at-a-time to your credit card.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Maybe I am the only one, but I subscribe to the paper version of the NY Times and read the paper online. What I pay to them for the subscription covers the cost of my online access to their editorial writers. I read different things from the paper and the online version, it's a different experience.

      There's actually a reason for this, and it's probably why the broadsheet isn't going to go away.

      A broadsheet covers many articles on a page, while most news websites are one-article-per-page, with headlines (and

    • by mounthood (993037)
      So you trust the NY Times and are willing to pay for their trustworthiness. But shouldn't most of the payment go to the journalists? And a tiny amount to the website operator? I'm also willing to pay for good stories and for having the avalanche of available stories filtered to a list I like and have trust in, but that's not what Google or the Newspapers are offering.
  • by daybot (911557) * on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:34AM (#29388119)

    When I saw "Google submitted to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA)", my immediate thought was that Slashdot had been hacked by a certain troll organisation [wikitruth.info]. I guess that serves me for browsing at -1.

  • Basically, news media is where it is at because of bad management. The idiots view is as a decrease of paper, and nothing else. They have not adjusted their approach to news. Yet, there are loads of ways for them to make money and increase web readership. This idea will simply continue to support bad management of news.
  • I never read NYT Online when it was paid-only, I never read WSJ online, I don't subscribe to any printed media.

    Why should I?? All the news I need/want I get for free elsewhere.

    There's no value added in news stories to warrant my paying for them, as everyone is reporting the same news (most getting it from AP and Reuters). If I have to pay for news, I'd rather pay AP and Reuters directly than some middleman.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jarocho (1617799)
      This is one of the more interesting aspects of the coming pay vs. free online news content issue. On the web, is it ethical for a newspaper to charge for reposted/reprinted AP and Reuters articles, while those original sources continue to offer their articles for free? Because at that point, are you paying the newspaper for the content, or the hosting of the content?

      Another aspect is advertising. Since - despite all appearances to the contrary - newspapers are still in business to make money, are they go
      • by natehoy (1608657) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:35AM (#29388567) Journal

        Gathering news at its source tends to be expensive. Gathering it from people willing to go into dangerous and/or inconvenient areas doubly so. Getting someone to gather the news then report it without some form of hidden agenda is rare even in the paid media, and in an ad-supported world there's the constant pressure to bias your news in favor of your benefactors - those who buy ads. So if MegaCorp's CEO is found buggering badgers in Soho, and MegaCorp's ad revenue is your bread and butter, there's a serious temptation to bury that story as deeply as possible, preferably somewhere that never hits print at all. If it is covered, it would be spun as hard and creatively as possible to cast badger buggering in the best possible light.

        Ads can pay for some of it, but not nearly all. Newspapers that have their own news-gathering resources are finding that their articles are being reprinted on free media, and are forced in large part to put a lot of their content online for free and hope that ad revenues make up for some of that. Meanwhile, a lot of their loyal readers are discovering that a lot of the content they want is available for free, and are canceling their subscriptions for the dead tree editions.

        Many local newspapers now survive on their remaining dead tree subscribers, and struggle to remain relevant in an online world where they can't make enough money to continue gathering news effectively. So a lot of them are dying off as a result, and the concept of "local news" in more rural areas is starting to fade slowly.

        My home town still has a larger town next door that has a decent local paper. It's still got a small staff of newsgatherers, and has fresh and relevant local articles. But it's a shadow of the paper it used to be, and is under constant threat of closing down. Print subscriptions are continually dwindling, and that's their major source of income.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:47AM (#29388201) Homepage

    The media is very biased and pisses off a lot of center-right potential customers because it is often so one-sided. It also does a terrible, terrible job as a "watchdog" as it often just parrots whatever a defense attorney or prosecutor say. It rarely has people follow local corruption cases and really dig down and write hard-hitting stories.

    Now, what'll the media do if the few real journalists become the money-making rock stars of their field? How will it respond if more conservative writers start bringing in big bucks.

    My guess is that it won't make a difference at many outlets like the NYT. It'll be a cold day in hell before they get actual conservatives and libertarians writing for them, do serious journalism again, etc.

    • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@@@hotmail...com> on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:04AM (#29388327)
      Far worse, IMO, is that most major media outlets simply re-release Associated Press (AP) content. Very little original news reporting really goes on anymore, except in the largest stories (e.g., wars, disasters) where the topic being covered can easily be covered from multiple angles without overlap.

      The main word in that last sentence is "easily". As I see it, too many media outlets want an easy way to fill their content containers (e.g., print press, websites, TV newscasts) without encouraging the kind of in-depth coverage that was once the mainstay of reporting. We need more news hounds who will go beyond the breaking headlines, the quips from public officials, and what they can quickly Google on the topic to doing real investigative journalism.

      Think of it in the context of the recent kidnap recovery in California. Did any member of the press break the story that the perp was groundskeeper next door, of a lot that overlooked his little prison camp? No. That information came out after the police investigated and made the discovery.

      I'm not suggesting that journalists should interfere with police investigations, or that they should have beat the police to that bit of information, but I wonder how many newspeople actually were out there trying to conduct their own investigations of this perp, and how many were just trying to be the first back to the office (or studio) with the most recent quip from an official investigator or a family member. To me, it seems as if journalism has become more like the paparazzi--simply haning out and hoping they get the best shot, or that they are first to press with some juicy new tidbit.

      Okay. Enough of my ranting and raving. The post was about Google promoting micropayments for news items served up through Google News. If they can make it work, it will be a good thing, but unless news outlets go back to some old-fashioned, pavement-pounding journalism, it will soon be like a respirator on a brain dead body. No matter how much air you pump into a dead thing, it is still dead.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The media is very biased and pisses off a lot of center-right potential customers

      I'm sure there are plenty of self-described centre-left potential customers who believe exactly the same thing about exactly the same media. I think the more informative view is that the media as a whole is a bunch of crap that either tritely reinforces your pre-existing biases or tritely contradicts them, the only distinction being which specific outlet is doing the reinforcement or contradiction.

    • by QCompson (675963)

      My guess is that it won't make a difference at many outlets like the NYT. It'll be a cold day in hell before they get actual conservatives and libertarians writing for them, do serious journalism again, etc.

      Very true. The liberal NYT would never let a far-right conservative like Bill Kristol write for them.

  • The right price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pmontra (738736) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:53AM (#29388251) Homepage
    Considering the price of a paper copy of a newspaper and the number of articles in it, the right price of a single piece of news could be 0.01 cents or less (EUR or USD, it's about the same if we look at the order of magnitude). However if we think that the same piece of news can be replicated infinite times with zero marginal costs of production, the price of a single copy goes down quickly to zero. Surprisingly, the more interesting is the piece of news (and so more read/replicated), the less it should cost. Basically newspapers are facing the problems of the music industry: they found themselves selling a product with suddenly no costs of reproduction and they are resisting the urge of finding a new business model or disinvest and move to another market (I mean the labels/editors, the artists/writers are locked into doing what they can do).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      But what is the cost that went into that article?

      The individual-copy cost might APPROACH zero, but it never reaches it. However, the consumed costs for the vast majority of readers for the vast majority of articles is now zero.

      And for smaller papers that cover more local-interest news, it's even worse because their costs are nowhere near zero, but the number of people willing to pay for it is dwindling, not increasing. So the cost-per-subscriber goes up, and at the same time a lot of their news is covered

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by proslack (797189)
      The problem is that "zero" won't pay for the journalist and his/her expenses, the editors, the IT team, the marketing department, the building they work in, the administrative staff, the attorney, or the hardware that serves up the news. There's a basic infrastructural cost that can't be eliminated regardless of the media format.
      • by pmontra (738736)

        I agree with you but we're confronted with this fact that people are not willing to pay for news. I understand the concern of everybody working in the news industry but they can't make a living out of something that has free competitors that people thinks are good enough. I'm thinking about blogs, search.twitter.com, youtube and even the TV. The news industry will get downsized. Some newspaper will survive (paper or web based) but a lot of people will have to find a new job.

        The music and news industries as

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by proslack (797189)
          Well...the news industry is at least two hundred years old, considering it is specifically mentioned in the US 1st Amendment, so it isn't all that new, at least compared to the Industrial Age.

          The catch is that bloggers and twitter scavenge quite a bit of their factual content from "professional" news sources. An additional problem with twitter (which I don't use) and TV are the problems with archiving content; its quite a bit easier to search for a text article than video (granted that some programs have
  • by vxvxvxvx (745287) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:02AM (#29388305)
    A lot of what google does is control the data and information produced by others. Google news for example, which I check daily, does not really generate it's own news. It's just a listing of top stories over a bunch of different news sites. If those news sites run into real fiscal issues and are at risk of ceasing operations Google would be harmed. So I see Google's stance here as nothing more than a "If you guys start going bankrupt we've got ideas." In the mean time I don't expect anything to change.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Or Google starts there own news site.
      Or new ones appear that embrace the new business models and shed the remnants of a model that's 100 years old.

  • I really don't want news stories to be democratized. The people on the internet who are the loudest are also the craziest [xkcd.com], the most obsessed and probably the ones that are most likely to spend money to push their world view.

    Who is more likely to fund a news story? An average reader or a crackpot who thinks that UFOs destroyed the Twin Towers?

    Well, lets see how this pans out.

  • Pay walls (even just micropayments) would lock out a lot of people living in developing countries without convertible currency. In those countries, even if you wanted to pay in your local currency, Google or anyone else wouldn't bother collecting. Is that good or bad? We're complaining that many people in the world don't understand us. Installing pay walls that they can't bypass would make this situation even worse, as it would restrict their news sources to the usual propaganda stuff promoted by their gove
  • This [news.com.au] is an impassioned plea on news.com.au for Google to give Murdoch money. It's one Murdoch paper reporting on something in another Murdoch paper. Note the Google ads.

    Illustration: Rupert Murdoch saying "My preciousssssss" [today.com].

  • Let them just update their robots.txt files to prevent google from indexing them if they have such a problem with millions finding their content.
  • The problem isn't that most print news isn't being paid for. The problem is that most of it isn't worth paying for. My college offers the NYTimes and USAToday for free and it is rare that a story in either of them is interesting enough to make me read past the headline or the first paragraph. There's maybe one article a day I'm interested in. Sorry, at that rate of return on time invested I don't see much point in buying newspapers.
  • by geekoid (135745)

    " let Web surfers pay a small amount for individual news stories,"

    You mean
    " make Web surfers pay a small amount for individual news stories,"

  • by geekoid (135745)

    Google just came up with some ideas to make the NAA happy.

    Google is just giving them some straws to grasp at.

    Print is dead, and that will be good.

  • aggregates of news.
    Now every place has there own web site to publish news.

    Everyone will be a news person.

  • This an interesting idea and if anyone can pull it off at the moment it's Google, but Google will need to give a teaser to the reader to draw the reader into buying the article. A lot of times I'll read the headlines and blurbs (on the WSJ for example) just for the sake of knowing that an event happened. Then, if I'm interested, I'll go to a free source to fill in the details. By details I mean what the writer feels are the details of the story, which a lot of times they miss, gloss over, or provide in such

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