Marketplace Scratch Pad

Is Journalism Dead?

Scott Jagow Feb 27, 2009

That’s the title of the seminar I’m in right now at the Kauffman Foundation. It began with a speech from former Boston Globe writer David Warsh, who proclaimed that printed newspapers are not going away. He said there will always be an audience for the convenience of a physical paper. I’m not so sure.

George Mason economist and blogger Tyler Cowen asked the obvious question: If everyone will be carrying around a device that is a “reader”, a phone, email, internet, etc… who’s going to be buying the newspaper?

Now, we’ve moved on to a panel that has broadened the discussion.

Atlantic columnist Virginia Postrel cites what Esther Dyson said about news content back in the mid-90’s — that the price of content will eventually go to zero because of competition. Currently, The Wall Street Journal is the rare exception of a news organization that can charge for content online because there’s an audience willing to pay for what they see as content that’s exceptionally valuable.

The question we’re now debating is how other news companies can survive online and how journalists will make a living. Some here in the room are saying people will pay for content by writers they like and trust, so creating a “personal brand” will be important.
There’s also talk about advertising models and micropayments, where people pay tiny amounts for each bit of content.

I’m curious what you think. Do you currently pay for any online content?

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