A major "State of the News Media" report is out today from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. I'll be writing up this report throughout the day, but first I wanted to correct a common misconception that is getting new attention from this survey: "nobody will pay for online news."
First, it's strange that Americans think they don't pay for online news. We do. We pay through our Internet bill. About two-thirds of Americans have Internet at home, and we pay an average of $41 dollars a month according to a February 2010 FCC survey. The reason we pay $500 a year for Internet access from our couch is partly to check email and chat with friends and partly to read all those "free" Websites that "nobody will pay for." We buy cable and Internet access, as opposed to particular pieces of content like ABC or NYTimes.com, but we're still paying for news, and want to.
Second, some Americans do pay for particular pieces of content. The Wall Street Journal website still tries to hide its premium content behind a pay wall (although you can bypass the wall by entering the article headline in your search box). The Financial Times has a metered system that blocks non-paying readers after a handful of online articles. Those newspapers are comparatively thriving in the beleaguered newspaper industry, and the New York Times hopes to follow the paywall brick road to revenue city when it switches to a soft meter in 2011.