Rex Hammock is right to gripe about the newspaper turtles pulling their heads in their shells and complaining that readers aren’t paying for the goods papers offer for free online. In that post he runs down some of the drumbeats he’s been hearing:
- “The notion that newspapers should become financially endowed institutions was published a few days ago in the New York Times. (My response.)
- Buried in this Q&A with Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, is the suggestion that the NYTimes is considering once-again putting some of its content behind a pay-wall in the future.
- Philadelphia° Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky tees-off on free-lunch readers and says they should start paying $5 a month to read the Daily News online — and, oh yeah, newspapers should get $1 billion from Google.
- Former Time magazine managing editor Walter Issacson writes at Time.com that newspapers should revisit the idea of micro-payments that might replicate the iTunes model. Pay, say, a nickle per story you want to read. (He’s riffing on the idea floated by David Carr of the New York Times last month.)…”
Here’s the problem with all of those systems: they’ll all be different, silo’d, inconsistent with each other. And doomed to fail for all those reasons.
Here’s the solution: One new system that makes it as easy as possible for readers to pay for the goods, but voluntarily, on their own terms. This new system would turn consumers into customers by giving them the pricing gun. And here’s what’s also cool about it: We’re already working on it at ProjectVRM. It’s called EmanciPay. (Note: when this was written, it was still called “PayChoice”. DS – 1 September 2009)
It’s still early. But it will get a lot less early if some of these pubs stop complaining and put their shoulders (and their wallets) behind work that’s already going on.