The nation's top newspaper executives are reportedly meeting today to discuss the possibility of charging for online content. The name of the clandestine meeting, as described by James Warren in The Atlantic, is "Models to Monetize Content" and is taking place in hotel outside Chicago.
The meeting is reportedly organized by the Newspaper Association of America and includes executives from Gannett, The New York Times Co., E.W. Scripps, McClatchy, Advance, Hearst, MediaNews Group, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises, Freedom Communications, and the Associated Press. Barbara Cohen of Kannon Consulting is spearheading the sessions.
Michael Golden of The New York Times, Gary Pruitt of McClatchy, and Tom Curley of the AP are some of the attendees named by Warren.
Warren reported that this morning there is a session called "Fair Syndication Consortium/Attributor," apparently referring to the alliance put together by content-tracking company Attributor.
Another session covers charging for online access to newspaper content and and there is one on classified advertising revenue.
I don't know anything about Barbara Cohen of Kannon Consulting. But jeez, I'm looking at the people and organizations named in this report -- have any of them succeeded in online?
Newspapers already put their content online for free -- how do you take your newspaper off-line? In the age of Google, Twitter, blogging and Facebook, I don't see newspapers successfully charging for content when there is information out there for free.
UPDATE: A reader says the newspapers could make it work if they all got together in a coordinated effort and planned to charge for content at the same time. Except that would be illegal, as another reader points out here.