The precipitous decline of print "isn't just about the economy, and it's not going to suddenly get better when the Dow finally starts chugging upward again," says Michael Learmonth. Indeed, in a world where everything can be read online for free and anything is fodder for countless aggregators, the printed word is surely out of place.
Meanwhile, the walls seem to be closing in on print publishers even faster, as the world stares into "an economic abyss" from which there's no visible way out. So what do (some) media companies do? They start crying for micropayments, ISP taxes, pay wall and nonprofit status, Learmonth says. Indeed, there are those who actually believe that consumers can be made to pay for content on the Web. That strategy is working (for the most part) for The Wall Street Journal, but then again, we're talking about The Wall Street Journal. "Consumers won't pay, it's just that simple," said MSNBC.com President Charlie Tillinghast. "They'll read amateur blogs and everything else first before they pay for general news and information. Those are the physics of our business."
Mort Zuckerman, whose New York Daily News was profitable until last year, agrees. "I think (micropayments are) a wonderful idea, if it would be possible. I just don't think it is. The market will simply not accept it," Zuckerman said on the "Charlie Rose" show.