The mantra of “Information wants to be free” has been pervasive in new media. It has been the clarion call of those saying that journalism is really a game that can be played by everyone. As newspapers offer their mostly commoditized information online, more people are unwilling to pay to have it printer on paper and delivered to them.
The death of print newspapers that has been evident for years – is now starting to come to fruition and is catalyzed by the overall economic downturn. But, that does not mean that there is not something valuable that newspapers can provide. It generally means that most of the news that most newspapers supply has become a commodity.
Newspapers should be asking not what their current news is worth – they should be finding what unique information and wisdom they can offer that people would be willing to pay for. I still pay for the Wall Street Journal. They offer enough unique insightful and valuable content that I am willing to pay.
Interesting quote from the WSJ on the topic:
One reason most media companies suspended normal business practices online, such as seeking subscription revenues, was a misinterpretation of one of the most powerful observations of the Information Age. When author Stewart Brand coined the expression “Information wants to be free,” he focused on how technology makes it cheap and easy to communicate and share knowledge. But the rest of his quote is rarely noticed.
This says, “Information also wants to be expensive.” The right information in today’s complex economy and society can make a huge difference in our professional and personal lives. Not having this information can also make a big difference, especially if someone else does have it. And for valuable information, online is a great new way for it to be valued.