Monday, February 16, 2009

Newspapers: Helluva Way to Run a Railroad

A week of The Washington Post weighs about eight pounds and costs $1.81 for new subscribers, home-delivered. With newsprint (that’s the paper, not the ink) costing around $750 a metric ton, or 34 cents a pound, Post subscribers are getting almost a dollar’s worth of paper free every week — not to mention the ink, the delivery, etc.

This is a funny fact from Michael Kinsley's NY Times Op-ed shooting the idea of micro-payments to hell, arguing that online readers will never submit to being nickeled and dimed for content. You've gotta love the fact that the newspaper is already losing money before they even begin to think about content! Time magazine's former managing editor, Walter Isaacson, stirred up a commotion with an article, How to Save Your Newspaper, which eulogizes print for sixty paragraphs before delivering the answer...

––i-tunes for newspapers! Steve Outing is very big on another payment model called Kachingle, that he says is going to make somebody a lotta money.

Even though you might only be asked to pay a few pennies to read an article, there's an emotional hurdle that is insurmountable, Kinsley and others say. They're probably right. i-tunes is probably an anomaly, people will only pay for things that are entertaining and/or pornographic, and readers (liberals) are notoriously cheap. Micro-payments for news would therefore have the consequence of reducing our citizens' awareness to an even more abysmal level than it is today. Democracy might not be able to afford that.

Here's another eulogy for newspapers by the Berryman-Prize-winning cartoonist, David Horsey.

I don't share these because I enjoy funerals, but it is fun to think about the conflict between content and money, and how much fun it will be to watch old editors and cartoonists eating out of dumpsters, peeing themselves, and sleeping in the park. Talk about micro-payments! I made 68 cents last week from google ads!


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