Paying for Information

Carr, unsurprisingly, makes the case:

When I was in Austin, I would fall asleep each night to bad dreams, prompted by cable television ranting that the world was melting down, principally in Japan. And each morning I would wake up to reporting that described in very careful detail what was actually known, not feared, about the nuclear crisis in Japan. Throughout the day, I checked my news alerts to make sure the world was not ending imminently. Tellingly, I never picked up a copy of the newspaper, reading it on the new iPad where The Times is a living thing and the better for it. 

People, real actual people, went and reported that information, some of it at personal peril and certainly at gigantic institutional expense. So The Times is turning toward its customers to bear some of the cost. The Times is hardly alone: AFP, Reuters, The Associated Press, Dow Jones, the BBC and NPR are all part of a muscular journalistic ecosystem. But it seems an odd time to argue against a business initiative that aims at keeping boots on the ground during a time of global upheaval.

Andrew Cohen puts it all in perspective:

At $15 per month, access to is roughly the price of one lunch for my son and I at Chipotle. It is less than I am willing to pay each month for my Fresca and my Diet Pepsi and my coffee, all of which I should drink less of anyway. It is less than the price of two movie tickets or what I spend on crappy wrapping paper each year, courtesy of school fundraising drives. And it is far less than I paid when (for years) I subscribed to the Times' national print edition, which was dutifully dropped at my door each morning.

Yeah, I pay more for Warcraft, then I'm going to end up paying for the Times. I think there can be a good debate over whether the Times' model will work. (Times Select was a terrible model, for instance) But I don't really see the argument for the paper never asking readers for money.