How much is the Web worth?

Would you pay for content on the Web?

Rupert Murdoch, the money behind Fox and the Wall St. Journal, expects to start charging you for access to his Web sites within a year.

“We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning,” he says.

It’s the sort of thing newspaper owners dream of during periods of REM sleep. But it’s been tried a few times, with fairly mixed results. People will pay for porn; they won’t pay for news.

Is there any scenario that you’d pay for news on the Web?

  • chicago andy

    Sure, I’ll pay. As long as it’s fair and balanced!

  • Steve

    What? Who pays for porn anymore, either?

  • Tyler

    I think the only time I would pay for news on the Web is for the Daily Show (Comedy Central). There are too many blogs and alternative sources for news to have to pay one particular one or two sites for news.

    It’s startling to me how many “news” outlets are simply cutting and pasting from press releases and AP/Reuters updates.

  • Matt

    People pay for porn?

    Seriously though, this can’t be the answer. Maybe I’m old-school, but I would pay for news online (and in print) if it’s

    • filtered and edited well, with content built to play to the strengths of the format

    • designed well with multiple kinds of readers/viewers and communities in mind and, again, appropriate for the format

    • nearly free of takeover, video, or massive amounts of irrelevant advertising

    Oh, and, you know, good journalism. But that should be a given, no? So far I can’t think of many news sites that do that for me at all, even the ones I subscribe to in print. Well, maybe one, but I’m already a sustaining member.

    Genie back in the bottle, blah blah. The only thing that’s going to save a world where everyone can publish at the click of a mouse are intelligent human curators.

    Sidenote: If Murdoch really is going to pull a bait-and-switch over the iPhone app (charging people for what the thought was going to be free), he’s making a mistake. Not that anywhere close to half the people who downloaded that application would have paid for a subscription to the paper or — a problem that speaks more to the clientele of the App Store, but still. I always used to argue a few years ago when pay walls were the Big Thing everyone wanted to do that there would instantly spring up a Napster for news.

  • Sean

    No way.

  • James

    Well, I am an MPR member, so I guess I pay for this site. (That’s a plug for pledging, BTW.) I might pay for other sites if the content were worthwhile.

    On the other hand, I would not pay for any News Corp site and avoid them even when they are free.

  • Anna

    I would be more inclined to pay for news from a particular niche (e.g., news related to the industry I work in, news on a particular topic of interest) or perhaps good news analysis – but regular old vanilla news? Nope. Probably not.

  • Grace Kelly

    1) First of all, it has to not represent the corporate viewpoint at all

    2) It has to be original and in depth, the summary has to be in the beginning. The heading should be a clear indicator of content and not a propaganda sell.

    3) It has to have context and intelligence. For example -not just Pawlenty runs for third term, but Pawlenty runs for third term when he spent most of his career fighting third terms.

    3) Accessible original content organized well like interview broken into each question and answer with video or audio, plus transcripts, fact checking, comparisons against other candidates and background facts.

    4) It has to have both a research section and a daily delivery email highlighting the latest editions.

    For example I would pay for a consumer reports locally that tested local food and water for toxic elements and for all green standards.

    News outlets doing stories off of press releases, AP, general available content and interviews who come to them do not deserve my money.

  • bob

    I’m happy to subsidize certain sites, such as this one, through my membership fees. But on the question of paying directly for access to content, no matter how swell or valid the originator/amalgamator of the content, absolutely, unequivocally not.

  • kennedy

    People generally won’t pay for things unless they provide value. If options are available, we will generally chose the least expensive option as long as the quality is sufficient.

    News, in it’s current form is more entertainment than informative. I generally see sensational headlines, vanilla content, and almost no in depth analysis. The audience for deeper news is probably much smaller than the audience for pictures of skin.

    I would be more likely to pay for access to unique content that would benefit me personally in some way (entertainment, financial, etc.)

  • Mark Gisleson

    No seriously — people pay for porn?

    OK, more seriously: What is the value of a carbon copy? A xerox? Can you sell a fax you received on eBay?

    News is not “the news.” News is a service that makes certain types of information more readily available in a timely manner. If there is no news report the news does not vanish, it is simply unreported.

    The real problem here is that world needs to reevaluate what does or does not have intrinsic value. Technology is teaching us certain things have greater value when given away. Information is one of those things. Give away good information and you can sell ads to people who want their product’s picture next to your free content.

    The marketplace is (currently) teaching us that things have value because lawyers go to court both to restrict our use of those things and to assign value to them. The marketplace is not assigning that value, our courts are. [digital music, movies, etc.]

    Can you get money for online news? Sure you can. Just like I can get money for nude pictures of my girlfriend. Can you get a lot of money for your news? Only if it’s really great news. And the only way I’m ever going to get a lot of money for nude photos of my g’friend is if I start dating Miley Cyrus.