Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail and the forthcoming Free, tells The Guardian that newspapers will need to find "the pet for their Penguin." Anyone with a child on Club Penguin will recognize the reference --- it's how Club Penguin gets revenue from the otherwise free online service --- and Anderson is suggesting the challenge is no small matter for newspapers.
But he isn't done there with the sobering observations:
1. The genie can't be put back in the bottle. If it was a mistake to give away content a decade ago, it can't suddenly be charged for today. Newspapers have to be selective and shrewd about what content won't be free. He borrows from his long-tail theory to suggest papers should give the head (the commodity) away and charge for the tail (the specialized).
2. There is a chasm approaching and it can't be solved entirely. As print revenues decline, online revenues won't replace them perfectly. It'll be messy. But the key isn't to growing traffic but widening the offerings.
3. Communities of interest are an opportunity. Catalyzing them can be a generator at low cost of high traffic and revenue. In it, journalism becomes an activator not a lecturer.
4. Some new thinking needs to emerge. Anderson rejects the notion that people expect free. Rather, he said, they need to be trained to expect things to be free to try and then pay for things of value. The focus need not necessarily be on quality, but on relevance.