Peter Scheer, a lawyer, journalist and executive director of the nonprofit of California First Amendment Center suggests in a Sunday column in the San Francisco Chronicle that:
"Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period -- say, 24 hours -- after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to remove content from the Internet, but to delay its free release in that venue.
"A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals--Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from 'mainstream' media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news. Digital fish wrap."
Scheer's basic belief is online won't be able to keep newspapers afloat for many, many years (and smart Wall Street types like Merrill's savvy Lauren Rich Fine have agued a similar revenue/profits picture).
But wouldn't his solution hasten the dimishment of the relevance of newspapers? When was the last time a "last to market" product or service succeeded - even if better? You have to remain relevant to be of value.
Robert Cauthorn, one-time vice president of digital media at the very same paper, said at a conference last week in Vienna:
"We need to forget news, we have got to get away from the idea of news and get back to stories.
"Our readers think of stories; news is an alien concept, stories are interesting. News is a terrible fate for a story to fall into."
Cauthorn goes to say the audience wants to be -- and has to be -- more involved in creating newspaper content. Instead of a waiting period, his idea suggests a Web-first approach.
Cauthorn is CEO of CityTools, which is developing a set of tools for a news and classified network.He's also an NAA New Media Pioneer award winner from way back in 1998.
I'd like to think there would be a place in the future for journalists in newsrooms, but news is bigger than the newsroom.
Whatever the approach or mix of information and methods and strategies, the answer is faster, not slower; and more, not less.