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It had to happen, online editions of newspapers had (and have) to start charging money, otherwise they will not be around in any capacity. If newspapers start going out of business how are we going to have useless England managers sacked? How else would we find out what is happening in the lives of Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and John Terry.
You have to applaud newspapers in many ways - for example, just look at how journalists outed former ministers recently. There is a sense of justice and prevail. Our national newspapers can galvanise us and influence us in a way the Internet still cannot.
I actually applaud Rupert Murdoch and News International for this move; quite simply something had/has to be done to preserve the newspaper industry.
Why should any of us expect to be able to read the content of a newspaper for free just because it happens to be online? After all you are hardly likely to stand in your local newsagent and read the whole newspaper without eyebrows being raised or something being said.
The Times Online - soon to be a subscription only service
Much as though I love the blogosphere, I am afraid it does not compensate for quality journalism and in my humble opinion the British newspaper industry does contain its fair share of quality journalists. Yes there are journalists who wind people up, but there are many respected commentators who should continue to be at the forefront of delivering opinion. Yes I could tap into a blog, but do you know what, it is just not the same.
Much has been made of news aggregators such as NewsNow and even Google News. The majority of leading newspapers now prevent themselves from having their content aggregated by these services. If you work in the digital world you would have to of been on the moon to not know that Google and Rupert Murdoch have been embroiled in a spat about 'taking' content for some time. Again this is an aspect that I do not disagree with, but then if only a headline and snippet is being displayed surely it would be in the interests of a newspaper to draw visitors in and then look to have them subscribe to their unique content.
Newspapers themselves are a dying breed. I have long wondered why I am inundated with 'free' newspapers through my door each week. These free publications serve no purpose and are littered with an antiquated form of advertising that we know to be ineffectual. So what is the purpose of wasting trees and other natural resources in creating newspapers when I can get the same content delivered to my iPhone or soon to be iPad? There is none.
The other interesting aspect to this is links. We all know links from newspaper sites such as The Times, The Telegraph The Daily Mirror and the like will carry some considerable weight. It remains to be seen whether all content will be locked away from un-subscribed eyes. It is though completely feasible that links from newspapers will soon be null and void, after all if Google cannot access the content where a link to your site may exist then your inbound power will be lost.
The whole newspaper industry is going to be watching this test case very closely. It is expected News Internationals online publications will lose thousands of readers, especially as there are plenty of other sources that are offering similar information and content. I don't agree with that. If you buy The Times in the physical world, why would you not want to buy The Times in the virtual world?
In fact if you do, you'll be doing more than just keeping a journalist in a job, you'll be taking an active part on saving the planet. Now surely that is something the whole of the newspaper industry and those who buy newspapers would want to be a part of.