One debate we don't need: should content be paid or free. One discussion we do need: how to defend and expand our ability to obtain and distribute quality content.
Newsrooms are full of people very skilled at obtaining information, distilling the essence of it, and distributing it to an audience hungry for meaning.
Some of it will always be available free, or at a very low price. Is the content paid for when subscribers pay to have a printed newspaper delivered? No, in most markets that subscription price just pays for the actual paper and delivery costs. Is all content free when there is no online pay wall? Try getting Tom Friedman to come to your group's next meeting to give a speech. You can read his work online without paying, but that in-person delivery method will cost you.
From global economic insight to high school sports, topics addressed by many newsrooms will find a passionate audience if the material is clear, insightful, relevant and presented with some urgency.
In Wisconsin, some officials are trying to make it difficult for local newsrooms to obtain and distribute the high school sports information. Are the matches entertainment that should result in a revenue stream for a private regulatory body or are they government-sanctioned events that are owned by the public in much the same way as other activities related to the public school system?
One account, WIAA suing Gannett Co. following webcast of high school football game, notes that Wisconsin is not the only state troubled by the issue:
organizations and high school athletic governing bodies. WNA Executive
Director Peter Fox said in some states, like Illinois and Arizona, the
sides have reached "uneasy truces" to continue coverage of events.
Publishers need to protect a newsroom's ability to provide such coverage in order to make sure there is the type of content that will attract an audience. What parts should be paid and what parts free will continue to be an issue, but only after insuring that the content is there in the first place.