The Future of Local News is the Wall Street Journal

More

This Financial Times piece has some good details on The Wall Street Journal's plan to start charging for content: It looks like the Journal is going to start using micropayments to charge for content. But I also think the FT might have buried the lede. Seems like this is also big news:

[Dow Jones editor in chief Robert] Thomson said the Journal saw an opportunity in its US metropolitan rivals' weakness, adding: "We're going to move in on each of the big cities."

This strikes me as more important than the stuff about micropayments, in part because the notion of using micropayments to charge for content is not new. Walter Issacson wrote a big story for Time Magazine about it. Michael Kinsley wrote an op-ed for the New York Times attacking Isaacson. Numerous blog posts followed. But the fact that the Journal wants to get into the local news business is different: It's not a theory for how to make preexisting content profitable; it's a theory for building new content. (And must reflect the fact that the Journal has some confidence in its business model.)

More importantly, concerns about the future of media are more acute with local news than, say, financial news (which is still profitable) or national news (which is still oversaturated). There are dozens of reporters covering Congress and dozens of reporters covering the White House. Even if many more DC bureaus close, there will continue to be reporters covering the White House and Congress, and there will continue to be more news sources to choose from than could ever be consumed.

But that doesn't seem to be the case with Boston or Cleveland or any number of large cities in which large newspapers are wobbling on the edge of the abyss. If the Boston Globe closes, it will impact the amount of information -- information that is "good for democracy," as they say -- that local consumers have available to them. I would be less worried if a paper like the Journal were there to pick up the slack.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In