"Psst! Newspapers meeting in secret! Chicago! Today! Keep it on the down low!"

Despite the possibility of federal anti-trust violations, a day-long series of meetings are being held today outside Chicago, where the upper management of newspaper chains across the company are meeting to determine the fate of online news — that is, they’re trying to decide how best to start charging for content, and then, probably, how to spin it so they won’t end up looking like the greedy bastards they really are.

James Warren at The Atlantic broke the story here just this morning, and since it’s not exactly newsworthy in and of itself, I doubt you’ll find much mention of the confab out on the Web, and certainly it won’t be mentioned at all on television, due to the cataclysmic significance of Jon and Kate, their brood of precious snowflakes, what Michelle Obama is wearing, or Bill O’Reilley’s combover. And, by the way, Anna Nicole is still dead.

However, a meeting of top execs that has been kept, well, not secret, but certainly clandestine, which is not even mentioned on its host’s online calendar of events — it’s hosted by the Newspaper Association of America — is important to every journalist across the country, and to every newspaper employee.

It should be important to consumers, too, because the whole point of the meeting, apparently, is to figure out how to gouge you — I mean, us — out of more money. “Models to Monetize Content” is all about how to charge us for reading their stories on the ‘net. But that’s not enough: they want to go after aggregators for “stealing” their content — even though aggregators, such as Yahoo and Google, or one of my favorite sites, Fark, do not steal content — they link a headline on their site to the story on the newspaper’s site. In actuality, this creates traffic for newspapers . . . but media conglomerates are insistent that it’s stealing.


Because they want the revenue. All the revenue.

This isn’t about the next evolution of quality journalism.

It’s about greed. It’s about arrogance.

Monetizing and micropayments simply will not work. I love newspapers; I love the information. I’ll buy a newspaper when I want one. But their content is no longer interesting to me as an informed adult in the 21st century. It’s old-fashioned. It’s trite.

It’s boring. There. I said it.

And I will not pay a penny for their content online.

It ain’t worth it.

Content is king, and when newspapers realize their online content has to evolve to reflect the interests of readers in this day and age — not the 1960s — maybe then newspapers will become successful online.

Until then, the geriatric newspaper will continue to be a snoozefest. Hey, let me know how that lawn and garden section is working for ya, okay?


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