The Big Money, an offshoot of Slate, takes on the notion that micropayments are possibly going to save journalism. In Gabriel Sherman's estimate, the reason there is no iNews to emulate iTunes is simple: news isn't music.
He pieces through the logic nicely to suggest that it's dreaming in tech to suggest it's possible to create a per-article payment online.
"In the modern industrial world, newspapers are still the only institutions that conduct the relentless and rigorous reporting necessary for a functioning democracy. Their reporting is so good, in fact, that consumers have grown accustomed to it always being there, like electricity or water. Maybe one day, when digital ink and flexible flat screens can mimic the deceased broadsheet, newspapers can finally return to the business model that supported quality journalism for so long. In the near term, don't hold out for (Steve) Jobs to come to the rescue."
And Clay Shirky of New York University chimes in, too. Micropayments won't save publishers, he says. It's a trope for desperation.
"The invocation of micropayments involves a displaced fantasy that the publishers of digital content can re-assert control over we unruly users in a media environment with low barriers to entry for competition."
He concludes: "We should be talking about new models for employing reporters rather than resuscitating old models for employing publishers; the longer we waste fantasizing about magic solutions for the latter problem, the less time we have to figure out real solutions to the former one."