A recent post that I wrote included some hearty debate in the comments between Tim O’Brien of the New York Times and me (with several other people weighing in). That debate for a couple weeks didn’t include the person whose post launched the discussion, Chris O’Brien (no relation to Tim apparently) of the San Jose Mercury News.
Chris was gone to Yosemite (lucky fellow) for a week when the debate originally broke out. Then an illness further delayed his response. While I approved his comment this morning, I wanted to use it in a separate post, partly to give it greater prominence and partly so I can respond to some specific points.
I should note that this debate is really about a secondary point of my post a couple weeks ago. I argued that the Original Sin of the newspaper industry in the early days of the World Wide Web was not failing to charge for content, as Newsosaur blogger Alan Mutter has written, but failing to innovate in how we served businesses. I think this is a much more serious issue than the one Tim and Chris and I are debating: why readers buy the newspaper and how much they are paying for it. But nonetheless, this is an important and interesting issue, so I gladly highlight it again. (By the way, I’m planning another post soon about another huge mistake we made early in the digital age, and what we need to do to avoid repeating that mistake.) (more…)