Online Newspaper Payment Plan in the Works—at Google

Revolutionary model slated for completion within a year
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2009 12:27 PM CDT
Washington state residents read the final issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before it went to an online-only operation.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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(Newser) – Newspapers are getting help figuring out how to charge for online content from an unusual source: archnemesis Google. The online giant says it's developing a "micropayment" model that should be ready in the next year, reports Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab. "The idea is to allow viable payments of a penny to several dollars by aggregating purchases across merchants and over time," says Google, which would take a cut. Details are still in the "planning stages."

"Google believes that an open Web benefits all users and publishers," reads the company proposal to the Newspaper Association of America. "However, 'open' need not mean free." Newspapers might find it appealing if Google can relieve them of expensive transaction costs involving credit cards, writes Zachary M. Seward ot the Nieman lab. But the company itself doesn't seem sold on the prospect. “We do not believe it will be the norm for accessing content," the Google proposal warns.