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Letters

A tangled Web for newspapers

March 08, 2009

Re: David Lazarus' consumer column, "What iTunes can teach newspapers," March 1:

Lazarus recounts the problems facing newspapers trying to develop income streams from the Web. But while so many offer plans for charging newspaper website visitors, one part of the argument never seems to be brought up.

This has to so with why the sales departments at these publications have not developed new ways to approach and work with advertisers. If, for example, 1 million people read a newspaper every day, and a similar number of people visit that paper's website daily, shouldn't the advertisers on that website be paying at least as much as they do for their print ads?

Unless and until new methods of selling and presenting advertising are developed by these publications, their pre-Web subscription-based form of raising income will guarantee no print news -- and no Web news either.

Steve Parker

La Quinta

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I think the idea can possibly work. But it's one of these where Pandora's box has already been opened so it would be hard to close and start charging online readers fees. Maybe it would be like turning back the clock.

If papers got together collectively under one subscription fee per month that might work for me.

Perhaps the collective can include most of the major newspapers, from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune as well as others. I would definitely pay $5 to $10 a month for that news service online.

But I would pay even more, double or even triple per month, for instance, if the online papers would additionally offer access to all their archives.

Kayvan Gabbay

Westwood

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It's sadly ironic that Lazarus is so blind to how liberal bias and adherence to politically correct dogma continue to contribute to the death of the L.A. Times and like-minded newspapers.

Just before he disavows any self-serving whiny ranting, he does just that by mocking that conservative devil, Rupert Murdoch, for plotting to take over the New York Times and his own Los Angeles Times. Snidely he says, "It should be encouraging [news] but somehow isn't." Why not? Murdock's Wall Street Journal is doing just fine.

If the public won't pay for your content on paper, time has proved they sure won't pay for it electronically. No matter how you wrap it in iTunes marketing, the public still isn't buying agenda-driven news.

Barry Colman

Santa Clarita

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Lazarus overlooks the difference between music and news.

iTunes filled the void of guilt-free legal downloads, promulgated by years of aggressive anti-piracy campaigns. News, in any form, is widely considered an altruistic public service.

Instead of continually devising gimmicks to generate revenue online, newspapers should consider restructuring themselves as nonprofit organizations. The nation and our communities would surely benefit from a print version of PBS or NPR.

Not only would papers be able to rededicate themselves to quality reporting instead of sensationalistic ad-driven headlines, but they would also be able to tap into foundation and individual giving.

Shumway Marshall

Los Angeles

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I was reading Lazarus' column while enjoying a cup of coffee on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning at Peet's in Corona del Mar. I was surrounded by others also reading a variety of newspapers.

There is a difference in reading for content and reading for pleasure, as we all were that day.

I just can't see any great demand for leisure reading on any electronic device. Yes, I might be willing to pay for information, but often the newspapers give me information I didn't know I wanted, or needed. I'm just browsing, and there it is, virtually forced upon me.

Who wants to lug around a laptop computer just to read the paper? Who wants to strain his eyes reading a newspaper on an electronic reading device?

These simply are not conducive to reading for relaxation.

Catherine Cate

Santa Ana

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This Mac user for life totally doesn't get your point. I've only made one iTunes purchase in my life, but I have six external hard drives filled with movies and music, none of which were purchased and all of which were illegally downloaded.

Feel free to turn me in, I have zero seizable assets and have been blogging loudly about my piratical habits for over five years now.

Mark Gisleson

St Paul, Minn.

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Lazarus is right to point out that with no revenue, newsrooms will shut and no good reporting will be disseminated anywhere, neither in print nor online. I very much fear that we will have a total apocalypse of news reporting before the value of content is fully realized.

I pay (voluntarily) a mere $15 a month to support my local NPR station. That is also free but many users pay to keep it alive. It's the only model that can work. I would eagerly pay $10 a month, for example, to keep my valuable content at my fingertips.

Deborah Lopez

Agoura Hills

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