Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch informs us that the Boston Globe and Boston.com are expected to move toward a subscription fee for their online services.
This obviously will have an effect on the blogosphere, especially Sox-related blogs, and especially this blog, which derives much of its material from the Globe and its New York counterpart, the Times. If the Globe is considering this, and News Corp. is considering it, and the Associated Press is tightening controls of its content, it's only a matter of time before the Times does, as well, its own failed foray into limited for-pay online content notwithstanding.
My interaction with newspapers has always been two-fold. I am a reader, and I (until recently) was a journalist. So I absorb the content while analyzing the form. My commentary here has reflected those two divergent yet complementary perspectives.
On this subject, I find myself torn further.
As a reader, the idea of paying for online content is not palatable. With a baby, another on the way and one income, we've dropped our newspapr subscription and subsist on free online news content. I could never afford the three newspapers I read daily. Adding even a nominal subscription for online news isn't in the budget and won't be any time soon. I am a lifelong reader of the Boston Globe, and I will deeply miss reading it nearly every day.
As a reporter, charging readers for content simply makes sense. No industry would survive if it offered something at even a reasonable price at a reasonable location, yet offered the exact same product — somtimes an even better product — for free inside its consumers' own homes. There is a complex web of reasons why newspapers have fallen apart the way hey have, but it certainly hasn't helped that they for too long have essentially pushed their readers to a medium where revenue streams are virtually nonexistent.
It's not an easy time for newspapers, and the effects of the industry's struggles have become increasingly apparent in the past two years, as cable news and partisan screaming have filled the void. Will charging for online content rescue the industry? I don't know, and probably not on its own, but it's long past time to find out if it can help.