Say it ain't so, Rupert!
I was in the process of writing a blog post about the German Chancellor's pledge to create "a new kind of copyright to protect online journalism," as reported in The New York Times earlier this week, when I saw the news flash yesterday that the Boston Bureau of the Wall Street Journal is closing and 9 journalists there will lose their jobs unless they can find a position somewhere within the company within a certain prescribed period of time. It will be a sad day in Boston without a WSJ bureau and there are some great journalists located there like Bill Bulkeley who will be sorely missed if the Journal does lose them.
Perhaps Angela Merkel's initiative in Germany isn't such a bad idea. Essentially private use of news articles remains unrestricted, but use of news articles by any site that sells advertising will be forced to in some way pay for the content they will be using online. The details are not available yet, but it will be an interesting debate to watch. I think the final paragraph of the article sums up the dilemma very well:
"Publishers say they understand that the Internet is different, but that they are tired of watching others make money from their content online. 'This is simply one part of the media’s effort to survive in a new kind of economy,' said Stefan Söder, a lawyer for Hubert Burda Media, a magazine publisher based in Munich. 'Obviously everyone wants access to free and unlimited information, but if everyone has that, then there is no way to pay for the production of it.'"
Even a reportedly successful paid subscription model and recently increasing market share did not save the WSJ from closing its Boston Bureau. Do we really want to get our news from the blog posts of anyone who wants to express an opinion, with no journalistic requirement for accuracy or fairness? Or, should efforts like those in Germany be explored in this country so the best newspapers not only stay afloat, but retain the best and brightest to give our citizens the news? What do others think?