This morning News International uveiled its plans to charge for access to its Times and Sunday Times websites. I hope it's not the beginning of the end of free access to news media online. Under the News International plans, you would either pay £1 a day or £2 for a week's access.
I won't be paying. If I'm going to buy news, I'd prefer to actually have a paper to flick through because it's just a pleasurable experience. Even if I did pay, I wouldn't link to a Times source because I wouldn't expect my readers to pay. That wouldn't stop me commenting on their stories, or highlighting when they, or any other paper, is talking rubbish.
News International has clearly decided that because it doesn't really understand the internet, it's just going to try and restrict and control it. It's not surprising that they've done this and they've gone for the maximum money option to really tie people down.
I will maybe look at one or two pages on any given day from the Times website, whereas if I have the paper I'll read the whole thing. If you subscribe online, they, I presume, hope, that people will look at their pages alone to get their fix of news. There are only so many hours in the day so it's likely that subscribers will only pay to access one site which is to my mind a retrograde step.
I wonder if this will prove an opportunity for bloggers to become more prominent - I mean, you can read our sites for free and a lot of the stuff bloggers produce is as interesting and original a commentary on life as you'd find in a newspaper if not more so. Blogs also cover a much more diverse range of opinion and experience too.
One of the attractive features of the internet is its diversity. I wonder how internet users round the world will take to News International's attempts to control them.