David Carr of the New York Times wrote an article about how journalism doesn’t need the Web, and – in so many words – he said he thought that free news found on the Web is bad news for print publications.
As prestigious and prolific as David Carr is, I can’t help but feel like he’s another “one of those.” The curmudgeon kind, that steadfastly holds on to print – not so much for practical reasons as much as nostalgic ones.
But his latest blog post really got me thinking. He suggested – in so many words – that the news industry should build its own iTunes. He compares the way the music industry struggled with Napster and free downloads to the way the news industry struggles with free information on the Web and declining subscription rates.
Now David likes this idea entirely for different reasons than I do. He wants a way people will pay subscriptions for news. I’m wholly against that frame of mind. Why pay for news when you can get it free in so many other places? The day a news organizations charges for its content is the day I go elsewhere for that content.
But, I do use iTunes, and I do pay for music. I never thought I would, but at some point I finally succumbed. I think the reason was more for convenience than anything. When I buy a 99 cent song, I don’t feel like I’m buying music, I feel like I’m buying the convenience of being able to listen to it on my own time, and having the ease of Apple’s integrated software to get it on to my iPod. I can get music for free. It’s on the radio, Pandora, or you can stream it live from many Web sites, but it’s a hassle.
This is why I think David Carr is on to something.
According to TechCrunch and several other rumor sites, Apple (or other companies) could be working on a tablet computer. It’s been described in some articles as a 7 or 9 inch iPod. This could enable some type of business model for the news industry.
I still don’t think I would pay money to read the newspaper, but I might pay nominal amounts for convenience.