Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Much Value Do We Put On Information?

There has been more and more talk – including a feature story in a recent issue of TIME magazine – about the plight of newspapers in this country. Almost all are struggling and some of the more venerable ones are either facing the prospect of bankruptcy or are already there.

This has been a topic of conversation for a while around our house because directly and indirectly I’ve been involved with the media for many years and my daughter is a staff writer for The Maui News, our local daily newspaper.

The problem is that more and more people are getting their news from the internet … and they’re getting it for free. So, they ask, why should I pay 50 or 75 cents a day for the print version when I can get all the same stuff and a lot more on line for nothing?

Good question.

The trouble is, someone has to pay for the gathering of all that news, and those costs keep going up along with everything else.

Meanwhile, because of the free internet access to their content, newspapers are losing subscribers and, as a direct result, revenue from advertising is declining.

There’s real irony in all this because the demand for news and information has never been greater … and the internet is the reason for that, too!

An interesting (though probably unrealistic) idea has been floating around media circles: What if every newspaper in the country shut down its on line edition for a solid week? Wow! In my case, that would mean losing access to articles from the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Honolulu Advertiser. And I wouldn’t be getting anything from Google News or Yahoo or even the Drudge Report, because all their news comes from the newspaper web sites.

Do you suppose that would induce enough of us to pay a modest fee for daily access to some of these newspapers?

I’d sure like to think so.



Liza's Eyeview said...

Came here from your daughter's Tweet :) An interesting post. Something to think about ;)

Scott Foster said...

I concur because I value professional news writers at institutions I know something about and so I subscribe to both Honolulu Dailies and PBN and don't mind one bit. We need them and this tsunami of well written drivel from the Net is swamping us all -- and destroying our news institutions, however flawed some may be.