Wire Creator Simon: NYT, Post Must Charge for Web

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 25, 2009 2:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – How to save newspapers and, in fact, journalism itself? Wire creator (and former newspaperman) David Simon implores the publishers of the New York Times and the Washington Post to start charging for their websites. “Content matters," he writes in the Columbia Journalism Review. "And you must find a way, in the brave new world of digitization, to make people pay for that content. If you do this, you still have a product and there is still an industry, a calling, and a career known as professional journalism.”

Local and regional papers can’t make the move on their own, Simon writes. In fact, the Times and the Post must act in tandem for this to work. “Would that every US newspaper publisher could meet in a bathroom somewhere and talk bluntly for fifteen minutes, this would be a hell of a lot easier.” Though antitrust legislation prohibits that, there’s a convenient out: “We read some rant in the Columbia Journalism Review that made the paywall argument. Blame the messenger.”

A man pauses as he looks at the front page of The New York Times.   (AP Photo)
The New York Times and The Wall Street Jounal.   (AP Photo)
The Washington Post building.   (AP Photo)
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No one can act if the Times and The Post do not; the unique content of even a functional regional newspaper—state and municipal news, local sports and culture—is insufficient to demand that readers pay online. - David Simon

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