The Cyber-News Tension: A Story’s Worth

I had to chuckle this morning when I came across a story online at The Wall Street Journal. It was about the Chicago Tribune’s announcement that next Monday it will soon be offering a tabloid edition (with the same content as its home-delivered version) for newsstand sales

Earlier, I had seen the story, by Phil Rosenthal, on the Trib’s front page (since I am one of the dinosaurs who still gets the print edition delivered to my home). But I had yet to follow the jump inside, distracted as I was by the Obama bobblehead doll reference that also graced Page 1.

So I figured I’d see what the esteemed WSJ had to share about the development.

The Wall Street Journal piece built up a head of steam, captured my interest and then….asked me to fork over some money (“to continue reading, subscribe now”) if I wanted to continue reading the third paragraph, let alone the rest of the story.

I moved on, my credit card safely tucked in my wallet. That moment underscored the tension that newspapers are waging in terms of traditional vs. online content delivery.

I didn’t want to subscribe to the Journal—I simply wanted to finish reading the story.

In a world where access to information is so rampant, what is the worth of any given shred of news? If a single copy of the Trib is 75 cents, how much monetary value can be assigned to a John Kass column –a few pennies, a nickel, eight cents?
Some day, maybe they will devise a system that zeroes in with such laser-like fashion. For now, anyway, I’ll just flip back to the Trib’s print edition and pick up Rosenthal’s story where it left off.

(A John Kass P.S.—mark my words, within six months he will be a household name in America, as the rest of the media world catches up with his no-hold-barred reporting on the “Chicago Way” and its intersection with President-elect Obama.)

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