Time's "Curious Capitalist" Justin Fox jousts with newspaper industry analysts who gripe that papers need to stop giving away their precious commodity online by arguing that they've more or less been doing that on dead paper forever. An excerpt:
….it's not really about a generation gap. News was already pretty close to free long before the Internet came along. It was free on TV, free on the radio, and effectively free in newspapers when you consider all the valuable stuff that came packaged with it for 25 or 50 cents, from comics to crosswords to classifieds to supermarket ads. And unlike, say, a song–which was free on the radio but worth spending money on to be able to play again and again whenever you wanted to hear it–a day-old newspaper was usually less than worthless.
What's hurting newspapers now is not the fact that people were willing to pay for news offline and aren't willing to do so online, but that their days as the monopoly conduit of timely written information into Americans' homes are over. The delivery boys have been displaced by Comcast and AT&T and Google and Yahoo, and there's no way newspapers will ever reclaim that role.
Here is LA Times man David Lazarus making the arguments Fox is trying to contradict.