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Not Suicide, Terminal · Saturday June 06, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

Daniel Conover incisively suggests that the online newspapers’ apparent formulation of a plan to place all their news behind a paywall constitutes a suicide pact rather than salvation.

I’d say it was more like a group of similarly afflicted purchasing a retreat in which they can end their terminal illness away from the public eye.

In the future this history of our present will be understood as obviously as children today understand that the Earth orbits the Sun. That is to say that everyone will know why newspapers were doomed, and why journalists were not. However, if any time traveller ventured to enlighten the minds of his forefathers he would have been burnt as a heretic.

So in an attempt to avoid heresy, here is a simple test that anyone can perform upon themselves to see if they have a mind that is so supple it can quickly make the paradigm shift:

Conceive of a future without copyright, one in which authors exchange their writing for their readers’ money, but one in which printers no longer pay authors for their writing to sell copies of it to readers.

If you can open your mind to the possibility that the market for copies has ended, then your mind is open to the possibility that there remains a market for intellectual work.

Newspapers are doomed. Journalists have a bright and prosperous future. These are not contradictory statements.

So, if you are a journalist, don’t charge your readers for copies, invite them to pay you to write, to pay you for your writing. Your readers are now your customers, no longer the printer’s. That traditional publisher can no longer pay you for your writing, because they can no longer sell copies of it, they can’t sell your readers’ eyeballs, and they can’t charge your readers for reading online copies.

Newspapers are white elephants in a barren desert of their own making, desperately wandering from watering hole to watering hole, but the revenue flowing from each tributary of their 18th century monopoly on the sale of copies is drying up. Neither fencing off the copies nor reinforcing the monopoly will help. Their business model faces absolute drought. So they collect, not to commit suicide, but to assemble their graveyard.

Our own technology reveals the fundamental natural law governing information and intellectual work. The age of commercial privilege is ending. Natural rights must resume.



 

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