Some new ideas must be like atoms that suddenly re-form themselves in the atmosphere. You look up and suddenly you see them. But you’re not the only one to see the re-formations. Others spot them too. How does this happen?
When I went for a quick run this morning in Central Park I thought I had an “aha” moment: If we still believe in the Jeffersonian notion that a free press is a cornerstone of our democracy, then we should charge for news as if it were a utility — like water or electricity. Then I read this letter to the editor by David Denby, who was responding to pieces bemoaning that newspeople hadn’t found ways to adequately charge for their services.
Instead of paying individual news organizations a separate fee, why can’t the consumer pay a single special monthly fee to his Internet service provider (much like a monthly cable fee now) that would then make possible instant free access to however many news organizations join a group devoted to this project?
After the Internet service provider took its cut, the revenues would then be split among the news organizations according to how many hits they get.
I would add that the distribution of money shouldn’t be based just on readership. A certain percentage should be set aside for start-ups. That way entrenched news organizations wouldn’t be able to squelch creativity.