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Pubs Discuss Paywalls at Semi-Secret NAA Meeting

PaidContent.org is reporting that two-dozen publishers, including the New York Times Co., Gannett, E.W. Scripps, Advance Publications, McClatchy Company, Hearst Newspapers, MediaNews Group, the Associated Press, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises and Freedom Communications, met at an annual Newspaper Associated of America event to discuss ways for charging readers for online content. The NAA did not publicize this year's event due to the grim news pervading the industry.

At the event, The Atlantic's James Warren said he expects many publishers to start charging for online content because "they don't know what else to do." Panel topics included "Journalism Online: Presentation on proposed service to charge for access to newspaper content and to license that content that (sic) online aggregators," "Aggregating User Data," and "Fair Syndication Consortium/Attributor," which looked at tracking newspaper content across the web and getting aggregators to pay.

So why didn't the NAA publicize the event? PaidContent's David Kaplan says it's because newspaper execs were worried about possible antitrust violations. Indeed, an industry gathering where publishers discuss setting up paywalls across their sites "could have the appearance of an illegal cartel," Kaplan says. "Newspapers would like an antitrust exemption to build up paywalls across their sites and fashion some industry guidelines.

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