Separately, more than 1,000 newspapers and magazines have signed nonbinding letters of intent to join an internet fee system being assembled by Journalism Online LLC. It intends to begin collecting money on behalf of publishers before winter.
Although students can access news articles through their school’s database, charging for news stories online would “limit the scope of accessibility for readers,” including college students unwilling to pay to read an online story, said Meghan Paul, a senior at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.
“It’ll just be more detrimental to newspapers,” said Paul, 21, adding that news sites get more readership when users post interesting stories on social networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter. “Papers would further lose their readership to blogs, tweets, and other social media.”
Publishing industry analysts said the news industry’s approach to charging for online content is likely to be gradual and varied in its approach, with some news services charging per-article fees and others collecting monthly or annual payments for unlimited access to news.
Harry Henry, vice president of data solutions for Outsell Inc., a research and advisory firm focused on the information, publishing, and education industries, said despite the push toward a paid model, there will always be news sites that maintain free articles and other news content.
“The model is still uncertain,” Henry said. “But … I think students being students, they’ll always look for free.”
Henry said the industry will see “experimenters” emerge in the next few years, but pay-to-read models won’t be widespread for at least three years, he added.
Small colleges might be affected more than larger universities if news sites begin charging for articles, Stout said, because the new business model will cost libraries more, and those increases will be passed down to students. Students on a campus with an enrollment of 2,000, for instance, might pay more than a student whose university has an enrollment in the tens of thousands.
Dallas Stout, a faculty member at the California-based University of the Rockies, said an introduction of fees for news stories wouldn’t affect students on many U.S. campuses where newspaper articles are not considered a viable research resource. Professors would rather see citations from papers published by researchers, not a New York Times story summarizing their findings, he said.
“Chances are the article in the [newspaper] is some journalist’s rehash of a research study that came out,” Stout said. “It’s not pure.”
He added: “At a lot of schools, [using newspaper citations] is just not allowed.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.
Editorial: Fox at the henhouse