Go Ahead, Make Our 24-Hour Embargoed Day

November 18th, 2006 9:35 AM

Newspaper investors are surely hoping that the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Peter Scheer never gets anywhere near the executive suite after his column last Sunday evaluating the state of newspaper industry.

In fact, something unusual must have been in the latte Scheer was drinking at the Chronicle when he wrote this about how to save the print newspaper business (HT Techdirt, which calls it the "Let Everyone Else Break News First" strategy):

What to do? Here's my proposal: Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period -- say, 24 hours -- after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to remove content from the Internet, but to delay its free release in that venue.

A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals -- Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from "mainstream" media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news. Digital fish wrap. And the portals know from unhappy experience (most recently in the case of Yahoo) just how difficult it is to create original and timely news content themselves.

Scheer is volunteering to go out of business forever. Drudge, Lucianne, FreeRepublic, Pajamas Media, the blogosphere, and untold thousands of others would fill the void so quickly that in a few weeks people would be asking "What's a newspaper?" What's more, the unfiltered news would probably be more accurate than the pablum we have to work with now as the starting point to get to the truth.

Mr. Scheer, if you want to see how not-indispensable you and your media brethren are -- Go ahead and make our 24-hour embargoed day.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.