Isn’t it ironic that in a week where Ron Jeremy observed that it’s becoming more and more difficult to make money from online pornography because of all the free stuff out there the New York Times has announced it will be charging for access to its website from 2011.
Making money online has always been a problem. The Dot-Com boom and subsequent crash proved that only those with a tangible product find it easy to make money out of the Internet. And here I mean tangible in the sense that they provide a service, original content or a physical product. News is a transient and fast moving thing, easily recycled and regurgitated by others. In-depth analysis of the news, once thought to be the saviour of such sites because it would be provided as a subscription service for the discerning reader, will probably fall flat. We all want our news on the hoof, in small packets that are quick to read and easy to digest.
It pains me to say it but the print media and businesses derived from it is having trouble keeping up and finding a way to prosper in the age of new media and new content delivery systems. The Kindle reader and other like it are a good example. Books on Kindle make sense in that they can be stored in a small space, downloaded on demand and don’t require more trees to be chopped down and transported so that people can read them. It also gives the opportunity for niche writers and publishers to create books that would sell in such small volumes that they would otherwise never be commercially viable.
Newspapers on Kindle are another matter. I can’t imagine anyone reading a newspaper on Kindle or such a reader when they can get the headlines on their phone. If you want the extra editorial then buy the newspaper and read that but the e-reader format seems to me unsuited to reproduce the newspaper.
Would the loss of the newspaper be so bad? Well I suppose it would as the format of the medium, physical and in its writing style, social commentary and record of our times makes it special and irreplaceable. Very much like porn magazines. In common with other periodicals the sales of pornographic magazines are down, hardly surprising because of the trend towards free porn and almost as sad as the demise of the newspaper. Porn too has in the past reflected the times in which it was produced, the style, content and depiction of the subject committed to paper tells a story of its era in a way that web based pornography will never do.