The future of newspapers?

(With thanks to the Daily Cartoonist for the link): American editorial cartoonist Ted Rall has recently written a three-part column on the future of the newspaper industry.

Part I
As big newspapers and magazines start giving away their content “violating the first rule of capitalism”, Ted tries to convince his bank to apply the principals of revenue share to his mortgage payments (“I don’t have a budget to pay you per se,” I cooed. “But think of the awesome prestige your corporation receives just by being associated with a cartoonist and columnist whose work is literally read by millions of –” Click. Citibank (Bangalore), Ltd., signing out. Back to work!”)

Part II
Ted warns that “If the future of media looks like the Web does now, things are about to degenerate from grim to grisly” and intellectual property vampires will suck creators dry.” (Ouch. Good job there’s a built in fee for every download of a ROK Comic…). The solution? If content is appropriately priced, of an appropriately high quality, and easy to access, people will pay for it,” asserts Simson Garfinkel, a fellow at the Harvard University Center for Research on Computation and Society and the author of Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century. “What is required is a system that is easy to use and licensing terms that are not onerous.”

Part III
Ted warns of the perils of the rise of free newspapers, warning that “Ultimately [free dailies] will breed in people the idea that news shouldn’t cost anything, even that news is cheap” (and by extension, the visual contents such as phtographs and cartoons that come with them).

Both Ted Rall’s editorial cartoons and columns are distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.

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