Newspapers are weighing whether to ask online readers to pay for at least some of what they offer, as a handful of papers, like The Wall Street Journal
and The Financial Times
, already do. Rupert Murdoch, WSJ owner, has talked about forming a partnership with a single search engine, which would pay him for the rights to scour the news and entertainment programming produced by his company, the News Corporation, rather than letting all search engines crawl his sites. Also Hulu, co-owned by Murdoch's company, is considering charging viewers to watch some of the TV shows it now streams free.
Will future consumers reach into their own pockets? Industry experts have their doubts, saying that pay systems might work, but in limited ways and only for some sites. Publishers who sounded early this year as though they were raring to go have not yet taken the leap, and the executives who advocate change tend to range from vague to cautious in making any predictions about fundamentally changing the finances of their battered businesses.