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April 6, 2009, 6:06 a.m.

Mutter: Publishers trying to write happy ending to revenue crisis

Watching newspaper publishers flirt with paid content is like sitting through a formula Hollywood romantic comedy: You know the two unlikely lovers who met cute then stormed off in different directions will be in the sack by the third reel.

Is there anyone who believes that this long-pent-up desire to charge for content won’t be soon be consummated?

The latest evidence comes from Alan Mutter, who posts news of a (no longer) secret meeting in San Diego of top publishers on the fringes of the annual Newspaper Association of America meeting:

Although publishers may not rush home from San Diego to declare that they are going to start charging for online content, there are few among them who already have not ordered intensive internal studies of the business models and implications associated with implementing a pay strategy.

After comparing notes in San Diego, the executives may come to recognize that the number of publishers willing to charge for at least a portion of their online content is approaching sufficient critical mass that they may be able to pull it off.

What do you think? Does this script lead to a Hollywood ending?

Edit to add: Joe Murphy of the Denver Post lobs an interesting idea: paid news concierge.

POSTED     April 6, 2009, 6:06 a.m.
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