The death of paid content?

Are we seeing the death of the paid content model?

There is chatter everywhere -- mostly speculative and unsourced -- about the Wall Street Journal potentially flipping WSJ.com to a free model, a possibility that Rupert Murdoch was described as calling "a wash" financially.

There is a report in the New York Post that TimesSelect is headed for the door. (Didn't they report the same thing a couple of weeks ago?)

And now Veronis Suhler is projecting that U.S. online advertising revenue will exceed the entire revenue base of the U.S. newspaper industry by 2011.

In the old world, where information was scarce, connectivity was scarce, and entertainment was limited, newspapers could charge for content. But for years the content pricing has eroded to nothing (25 cents for a newspaper ... get real), and newspaper pricing today is essentially about recouping some home delivery costs.

Applying that model to the Web never made sense.

But I'm not so sure about the WSJ. It's not only in a completely different market than mainstream/local newspapers, it's also paired with a sister website -- Marketwatch.com -- that has an open model.

Why not let the market decide?

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Comments

Steve....after attending a women's blogging confernece last month, I found myself inundated with all sorts of invitiations to "contribute" to this or that particular venture, including an invite to "contribute" to a very popular portal that rakes in a lot of ad money.

Trouble is, no one wants to pay for my content. I'm supposed to work on various articles between 250-500 words, which will then go through an editorial process, and be happy just sharing it with others and maybe getting some traffic back to my blog. (while they retain all rights to the work.)

So, while it may be great that Times Select and the WSJ are thinking of freeing up their content, will the model then shift to one that relies on unpaid content contributed by "readers" or "citizens" to then support the content of elites like Tom Friedman? I wonder.