Charge for News! Yes, Do It! C'mon! I Dare You

I'm in London at the Guardian's Changing Media Summit conference.

Guess the subject that has most often come up. Yes, yes, pay walls. The absolute determination on the part of many of the world's most powerful news organizations to charge for content. The steely determination. The moral necessity to charge. The inevitability of it.

This has been the central subject at all media conferences for more than a year. Rupert Murdoch has become a sort of fulminating robot on the subject of paid news, followed closely behind by his fulminating son, James. Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher and controlling shareholder of the New York Times, with the Times' CEO, Janet Robinson (Sulzberger is really the CEO, and Robinson the number two, but who's counting), go around to conferences together painstakingly outlining the intricacies of their as yet highly uncertain pay-wall strategy, the job, at less panicked and self-obsessed companies, of mid-level product managers.

My question -- and the question of my interlocutor at the conference, the Guardian's redoubtable Emily Bell (the Guardian has no plans to charge )-- is what's taking so long?

If these mooks really want to charge for this stuff, why don't they?

What the hell?

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