My latest column is up at EditorandPublisher.com, and I suspect it will cause some debate:
If you follow the media biz, you’ve surely seen the brouhaha over new calls from prominent journalists like Walter Isaacson and Steven Brill for news publishers to start charging for content on their websites. The argument — which I find to be seriously flawed — is that everyone who produces serious news content needs to own up to the media industry’s “original sin” of giving content away free online and institute a system of micropayments for news. In other words, but up barriers and “take ownership” of your valuable content again, so the industry can afford to pay journalists.
I learned about an alternative idea recently, and I think it can work without the MANY problems that micropayment systems for news content present. The soon-to-launch Kachingle puts the user in control of paying a voluntary regular fee for all content online (primarily blogs and media websites) and sharing the money based on users’ preference of favorite blogs and sites, and their measured visits to those sites.
It’s a contrarian idea that I think has great merit. Imagine it on a scale of Google (or if Google acquired Kachingle) with a serious marketing campaign; it could mean real money for popular websites and blogs, supplementing advertising.
Best of all, it avoids putting barriers and walls around content, which is the antithesis of the right way to leverage the nature and culture of the Internet.
Good idea? Lame? Might work? Please discuss…