Saturday, September 12, 2009

IBM, Google, Oracle, Microsoft suggest newspapers ways To generate net revenue

Some of the world’s most prominent technology companies are offering suggestions to publishers on how they can charge readers for news online.

IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Google — a company some newspapers blame for helping dig their financial hole — responded to a request by the Newspaper Association of America for proposals on ways to easily charge for news on the web.

But building the infrastructure for charging readers is one part of the equation. The other part looks more challenging: getting publishers to make the leap and stop giving news out for free on the web.

Randy Bennett, the senior vicepresident of business development at the newspaper association, said his group initiated the process after a meeting of publishers in May near Chicago. A report that was posted online on Wednesday by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University includes 11 different responses from technology companies. Google’s proposal may be the most eyebrow raising, if only because the company — which aggregates thousands of articles from media outlets on its news pages — is so closely associated with the freewheeling ethos of an open internet.

Google proposed offering news organizations a version of its Google Checkout system, which is used for processing online payments. It would give readers a place to sign in to an account and then pay for media from a variety of sources without having to punch in their information over and over. And the company says it could offer publishers several pay methods, from basic subscriptions to socalled “micropayments” on a perarticle basis.

Along with the technology heavyweights offering ideas are tiny startups. CircLabs, run by just four people and incubated at the Missouri School of Journalism, is developing a program that would feed news from different sources into a bar across the top of web browsers. Martin Langeveld, the company’s executive vicepresident, said the application will offer both targeted advertising and the option of charging.


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