Will Dean Singleton Figure Out How to Charge for News Online?

September 29 2009, 10:48 AM
Next year, Utah's largest daily newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, will begin charging online readers a fee to view some content. Dean Singleton, the CEO of Denver-based MediaNews Group, which publishes the Tribune and The Denver Post, recently told the National Conference of Editorial Writers, "We can't continue to give everything away for free. When you give it away for free, it has no value. When you begin charging for it, it has some value" (via 5News in Utah). "I think most companies will begin to take their most valuable content---think sports, think hyper-local news, perhaps entertainment---and put some of that content behind a pay wall," Singleton adds (via the Tribune). The trick, however, is finding a way to squeeze cash from readers. As Britain's Telegraph notes, only two newspapers have convinced readers to pay for stories: the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal (although both offer some free content to occasional readers). Google, often criticized for profiting from the news it aggregates but doesn't create, might provide the answer. The company is developing a method that would allow newspapers to charge users for certain content through a system of micro-payments. Meanwhile, in Colorado, an old-fashioned newspaper war is about to start, as Boulder's Daily Camera attempts to take on Longmont's Daily Times-Call with a weekly newspaper--"either a remarkably bold move or an example of outmoded thinking," writes Westword media critic Michael Roberts.