Anderson vs. Gladwell: The Battle Over Free

Anderson's new book sets off old-school journalists' feud
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2009 7:45 PM CDT
Malcolm Gladwell published a scorching review of Free in the New Yorker.   (AP Photo/Little, Brown and Company, Brooke Williams)
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(Newser) – Chris Anderson's new book, Free, examining the repercussions the Internet trend of bringing costs to zero, triggered a mini-war with Malcolm Gladwell, who lambasted him for arguing that "the New York Times should be staffed by volunteers, like Meals on Wheels." In the London Times, Antonia Senior does play-by-play commentary, accusing Gladwell of ignoring Anderson's main argument—that consumers, particularly those under 30, "now fully expect to pay nothing."

Gladwell assumes that the author is an evangelist for a free economy, and that Anderson himself holds out hope for a "freemium" hybrid model of online business. But both men avoid the obvious, pessimistic moral of Free, Senior writes: If advertising continues to slack, "much of the media as we know it is doomed."