In what is either the last gasp of a dying industry or the long-awaited retrenchment of an American staple, the big-time newspapers may be going pay only. Rupert Murdoch’s declaration yesterday that he will be charging for all online news under his media empire spurred enough reactionary blogging to fill a Sunday edition. But is journalism’s online pay vs. free dilemma its real problem, or are media empires missing the point of the industry’s troubles altogether?
Perhaps Murdoch’s move is the first realization of Financial Times editor Lionel Barber’s declaration that almost every news outlet will be charging for all content within the year. Perhaps it is a naïve experiment that will end badly. Or maybe the answer to the question lies in the another trend in the journalism business: corporate control.
Murdoch thinks the fact that he oversees a gigantic media empire is an advantage: his move alone will slide much of the country’s media (especially for right-wingers) behind a pay wall, and could set a powerful trend. But does he forget the inherent disadvantages of corporate sponsored news? What if corporate control, and not new media, is killing the industry?