Online news sites need print, charge for content

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nytimes.jpgADOTAS — Everybody online keeps saying that papers should go completely online.

Heck, I said it when I was working at a newspaper and saw declining advertising revenues slash and burn the newsroom. The problem is that a move like that might eventually work, but it won’t anytime soon. The scant data out there shows that print is an important marketing tool for online and without it, a news site will suffer a massive drop in its readership and advertising.

And newspapers need to figure this out. Advertising, already in its worst slump since the Depression, suffered by far the sharpest drop in generations during the first quarter of 2009, down 30 percent for some papers, according to the New York Times.  Online advertising is slumping as well, and even when it was going well didn’t make up for the off line stuff.

Meanwhile, Steven Brill, creator of Court TV and American Lawyer magazine, L. Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and Leo Hindery Jr., who has headed communications companies like Tele-Communications Inc., Global Crossing and the YES Network, and now runs InterMedia Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in media.media are building an automated system to allow newspapers and magazines to charge for online access, including an “all you can read” subscription that would allow access to multiple publications.

What’s more interesting is that they have hired a high-powered law firm to protect copyrights. Seems to me that places like the Huffington Post better be ready to pay up.

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