Alan Mutter proposes a system of credit payments for online news. His latest post in Reflections of a Newsosaur is the latest post in the Reflections of the News Business as it surmises if it can charge for what it's been giving away.
Mutter says it's possible. He proposes a Universal Simple Interactive Network --- UN-SIN for short --- that would be a credit account permitting you to activate access to news Web sites. He suggests premium content ought to be the unique journalism of a newsroom, not the commodified content others present.
As for the consumer being nickled-and-dimed --- or more likely, micro-pennied --- with each transaction, Mutter believes the initial aggravation would wear off quickly. They'd get used to it.
What I'd like to see now is someone taking the micropayment model and showing how many such transactions would be necessary at what rate in order to generate sufficient financial support to sustain a news company.
Let me try a simple one: A $20-million newsroom would need 20 million transactions at one dollar, or 200 million transactions at ten cents, or two billion at one cent, or 20 billion at one-tenth of a cent per item.
Of course, that's just the newsroom. Many more fixed costs are necessary in a news company. Micropayments, if theoretically possible, are practically only a partial solution.
I understand this system is part of a technological bridge --- that the revenue-generating newspaper is in place as the newsroom moves to a digital platform --- but the economics in the micropayment notion aren't easy.