The dismal state of newspaper finances has produced a spate of articles about the news business, plus a website called newspaperproject.org to defend the relevance and value of news organizations. "More People Will Read A Newspaper Today Than Watched Yesterday's Big Game."
It's a good point, and people do indeed love the news -- they love it on Drudge, Google, Yahoo, and a zillion other websites that feed on the product produced by the newspapers and their wire services. The news organizations have made the news into a commons. Seduced by the free culture-ites of academia, they do not protect their intellectual property, allowing anyone to drop his fishing line into the ocean of content and hook some advertising dollars.
The one solution rarely proposed is to charge for content. An exception: Peter Osnos of the Century Foundation, who says: "With the print newspaper and magazine business model irreversibly in decline, these enterprises have to start demanding payment for use of their material, or they will disappear." He suggests starting with Google: "[Google] spokesmen, especially CEO Eric Schmidt, have repeatedly said they would like to help newspapers, if only they could figure out how. Well, how about sitting down with representatives of the floundering news gatherers and devising a system that would pay royalties for click-throughs supported by advertising?"
Good luck with that project, but Osnos is right. If producers of content cannot monetize their work, then they will stop producing it, and we will be left with a rump business of amateur productions.