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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!

Will Pay-For-News Create A New Industry?
by: Jaffer Ali
(Originally Published: 11/10/2009)

The notion that a significant portion of the population is willing to pay for news online is one born from intense, myopic self-interest. And as any Philosophy 101 student can tell you, that's a long way away from enlightened self-interest.

Think of this. Rupert Murdoch recently said that the "fair use doctrine" should be challenged in court and be eliminated altogether. How idiotic is that statement for a news mogul to make when his very news organization utilizes countless hours of copyrighted materials for their broadcast without paying royalties?

Recognizing the contradiction, he did add (cautiously), "but we will take that slowly".

The more intent on charging for their product news organizations become, the less syndicated their news will become as they hide that information behind a firewall built only for subscribers willing to pay. So here's a prediction:

Organizations will spring up that will subscribe to news feeds and they will rewrite the stories...and these will be searched by Google, Bing, and others. These new sites offering rewritten "free" news stories will garner huge traffic from search engines as well as from Twitter and Facebook.

You cannot copyright facts. Rewriting news stories will become the new journalism. Heck, it was pioneered by NY Times reporter Jayson Blair who "covered" stories without ever leaving his apartment. He simply rewrote what others said, put his name on it and delivered it to a happy editor who applauded his work ethic.

Who would have guessed that an admitted fraud would point the way to beating the pay-for-news folks at their own game?

And whereas Jayson Blair practiced deception, the proposed news "re-writers" combating Murdoch et al's dreams would make no bones about their wide-open modus operandi. Would there be law suits alleging copyright violation?

Of course, but news organizations must walk carefully (see Murdoch's quote). What is good for the proverbial goose is good for the gander because every news organization rewrites materials. Dare to change the rules and they could suddenly see themselves hoisted on their own petard!

Also, before they sue for copyright violations, they must first register the "work" with the copyright office, which would get rather cumbersome considering all of their content. They can send cease-and-desist notifications, but to enforce copyright violations, they must register the content, which means first proving that it's theirs to copyright. They can attempt to copyright how Bill O'Reilly looks and sounds when he talks, but they can't copyright what he talks about.

The more insulated from the free news world paid firewalls become, the more successful the fledgling re-write news organizations will become...and the more traffic they will get. Picture a room filled with just-graduated journalism majors covering the Middle East from their cubicles, subscribing to and receiving multiple news feeds from the "best" news organizations in the world.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Google is already working on an algorithmic way to rewrite news stories that greatly reduces if not totally eliminates human interaction with the process. If not Google, someone will figure it out.

One thing is certain: News organizations cannot solve their economic problems by trying to sell a cow when the world is awash in so much free milk.


Original Article: Will Pay-For-News Create A New Industry?

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