Tuesday, January 22, 2008

That internet fairy tale

One of the premises being forwarded in all the discussions of David Simon's view of journalism presented in this year's episodes of The Wire is the one about how newspapers lost to the internet because they gave their stories away for free. (Simon, in the Post on Sunday: Does the News Matter To Anyone Anymore?)

I had thought this one had been pretty much debunked, with the rational views presented over the years by Doc Searls (and here) and others, and with the New York Times dropping its paid access to columns and archives, and even rumors of the Wall Street Journal dropping its subscription fees.

Ryan Sholin notices too, and says, in a posting entitled Debunking the coulda-shoulda-woulda myth of online news,
Putting the news behind a paywall as early as, say, AOL’s heyday - or earlier if you prefer - would have actually served to accelerate the rise of blogs, citizen media, and flight away from news-on-paper.
Because pulling your content out of the stream of connections that is the Web would have led to members of your community making even more connections themselves... ...your readers know how to communicate with each other without your help.
They’re not as dumb as you think.

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