The Cost Of Paper

Yglesias counters Suroweicki:

The problem newspapers are having with online isn’t that the readers won’t pay, it’s that the advertisers won’t pay. The reduced costs per reader make up for the reduced revenue involved in giving the product away, but a physical newspaper generates far more in terms of ad revenue per reader than does a newspaper website. Probably once physical newspapers all disappear, ad rates for news websites will go up somewhat merely because ad buyers won’t have as many options.

But I think it’s plausible that even when everything shakes out online advertising revenue still won’t support the volume of staff that print advertising revenue once did. In that case we’re going to have to count on a mix of nonprofit media (ProPublica, Center for Independent Media, ThinkProgress, The American Prospect) and value-adding analysis by experts workers on an amateur basis (Brad DeLong, Greg Mankiw, Mark Kleiman) to make up the gap. That and, of course, increased productivity on the part of journalists Google and email have made it much more efficient to research stories than it once was.

But in terms of revenue for for-profits, the action is all in the advertising can people come up with ways to raise more money not in charging readers.