I remember when I first started working on the internet one of the catch phrases was, “content is king”, meaning without content, data, there wouldn’t be so much drive to be online (except for porn, that is) and it seems that phrase is now truer than ever–Web Publishers Eye Your Wallet:
The only thing slowing down the move away from free content is the sorry state of micro-transactional software. Once all the bugs are worked out, the free internet gateway in which publications generate revenue from ads will slowly morph into another, more-lucrative business model: gated content.
Of course, this argument (that eventually all content will be pay-to-read) is not a new one but it seems that now that there are more and more of us hooked to the web as our source of information, that having us pay for it can’t be far behind. It’s the whole pusher giving you your first bag for free analogy.
Now, while on the one hand, I’m sad that so much of the news I read may no longer be free, on the ohter hand, I’m excited for what this might mean for writers (both journalists and creative writers) in regards to what they get paid for their words (many of the freelance contracts one gets for writing pay one flat rate for the rights of the story, allowing the publisher to put it both in print and online). I wonder, if pay-for-content becomes a model for news publishers, what this will mean for literary ezines?