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Pundits eager to come up with ideas to rescue the foundering newspaper industry have lately been touting a back-to-the-future concept: charging for online content. Most prominent among this group is Walter Isaacson, who made "micropayments" a cornerstone of his recent Time magazine cover story, "How to Save Your Newspaper." Meanwhile, Steve Outing, who writes a column for the journalism-industry mag Editor & Publisher, devoted his latest offering to Kachingle, a start-up that plans to charge a monthly (and voluntary) subscription fee for online news and blog fare that Outing equates to membership in a public-radio station. Surfers will then click the Kachingle logo on affiliated sites to designate that part of their contribution be earmarked for the page in question.
Of course, most media observers believe that the ship sailed long ago in regard to requiring cash to view the vast majority of Web material. In my opinion, the advertising-supported model makes the most sense -- and hopefully revenues from banners and so forth will rise over time as print becomes less and less viable. In the meantime, though, assorted papers are making yet another attempt to pry a few bucks from those looking at their product on computers, with the E.W. Scripps-owned Boulder Daily Camera being a prime local example. Earlier this week, subscribers to the Camera's electronic edition received an e-mail letting them know that the service, which had been free, will cost $3 per month starting on February 16. Granted, some people will probably pay this sum, at least for a while. But in all likeliehood, the vast majority will opt out, thereby voting against this particular micropayment with their wallets.
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Subject: Daily Camera Electronic Edition
Thank you for subscribing to the electronic edition of the Daily Camera. Up to this point access to the e-edition has been free of charge. Beginning Monday February 16th, the e-edition will be viewable only with a paid subscription of $3.00 per month. We hope you have enjoyed using the e-edition to read the Camera and will continue to do so at this low price.
Jason Turner Circulation Director Prairie Mountain Publishing