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Editor's Note:

I just wanted to let my readers know that I've created a blog where I will be posting essays and articles I've written on digital and online marketing. It's an extension of Media Perspectives. I hope you continue to read and enjoy!

Here's the link: Jaffer Ali's Blog - Perspectives from a Media Contrarian

Thanks for Reading!

Why Charging For Online News Content Won't Work
by: Jaffer Ali
(Originally Published: 11/9/09)

It happens every time a new type of media emerges. For example, and this dates me a bit, when I entered the home video business, beta was king! Back then, music industry executives-turned video executives treated the video industry as if it were the record industry.

Book distributors also jumped in, and, guess what? Yep, they treated video like books.

Periodical distributors entered the fray and, well, you know what happened...

It is undoubtedly true that we view life through the lens of our own experiences. There is nothing wrong when these experiences inform our viewpoints. But it is another matter entirely when we become slaves to our own narrow perspectives.

Steve Brill, creator of cable's Court TV, is a slave to his past and thus he is touting a model that has very little chance to work online. Online is not cable. People will not pay for information that is readily available for free.

Online distribution platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. have made the physical distribution of information either free or very close to free. Yes, someone still needs to create that information. But when it comes to news, this information is ubiquitous and free, if you know where to look.

Give me open access and 140 characters to play with and I will give you the Internet---Absolutely FREE!

Mr. Brill wants to superimpose a cable TV model onto the online space. He is being led by his arrogance that makes him believe that certain mainstream media outlets actually have enough trust equity to pull off a paid model. But chew on this for a moment:

1. The Bush Whitehouse brought in 150 retired Generals and briefed them on the Iraq war to become analysts for all MSM outlets. The MSM dutifully reported what these Generals had to say.
2. Armstrong Williams was paid $250,000 by the Bush administration to appear almost nightly on cable to promote a POV.
3. The PR budget to sell the Iraq war for the Bush Admin was $1.6 Billion
4. Carl Bernstein reported years ago that over 400 journalists in the US were on the CIA payroll
5. Judith Miller of the NY Times was essentially exiled after being the Pentagon "go to" gal for promoting WMDs in Iraq

This is not an anti-Republican diatribe, but an anti-MSM, anti-foolishness diatribe. Only an arrogant cuss like Brill would think that the editorial prowess of the MSM news organizations is so profound that people will pay for the privilege of being hoodwinked.

With the Internet, any and all of what we ultimately deem important and "newsworthy" is revealed in due course, the operative word being "we". And it's free! Bloggers on the ground in Iraq tell a better story than embedded hacks. And with Twitter and Facebook, one has the potential to build large audiences and share information across the globe in a matter of seconds.

News is reported, not created. Propaganda is created. With free news outlets in Iran, China, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, etc., the challenge is not finding the news. The challenge - and the opportunity it represents - is in the distilling of the vast amounts of free information and opinion at our fingertips. The real stars of tomorrow's news industry will be those whose editorial taste we admire and whose viewpoint we share.

Brill's dream of charging for his version of the news has the feel of fantasy, soon to become a nightmare.

Original Article: Why Charging For Online News Content Won't Work

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