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Daring Fireball: Charging for Access to News Sites

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Via Jay Rosen on Twitter, contrary to the Financial Times editor's assertion that most news organizations will be charging for online content within the year, John Gruber gets "it" and states it clearly:

Undeniably, there is money to be made in digital publishing with free reader access, but whether that revenue leads to profits depends upon the scale and scope of the organization. The potential revenue does not appear to be of the magnitude that will support the massive operations of existing news organizations. What works in today's web landscape are lean and mean organizations with little or no management bureaucracy -- operations where nearly every employee is working on producing actual content. I'm an extreme example -- a literal one-man show. A better example is Josh Marshall's TPM Media, which is hiring political and news reporters. TPM is growing, not shrinking. But my understanding is that nearly everyone who works at TPM is working on editorial content.

Old-school news companies aren't like that -- the editorial staff makes up only a fraction of the total head count at major newspaper and magazine companies. The question these companies should be asking is, "How do we keep reporting and publishing good content?" Instead, though, they're asking "How do we keep making enough money to support our existing management and advertising divisions?" It's dinosaurs and mammals.

And it's not really surprising that they're failing to evolve. The decision-makers -- the executives sitting atop large non-editorial management bureaucracies -- are exactly the people who need to go if newspapers are going to remain profitable.

Precisely. Pay attention guys. Josh is showing you what to do.