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I read today's news. Don't let the lunatics out there intimidate you. Take care of yourself and stay safe.


I agree with Posner but I don't think he goes far enough... The free-riding problem isn't specific to print, Reuters and Associated Press are headed for disaster too. Once one news agency purchases a copy of a Reuters or Associated Press article, then every other online news agency can paraphrase it for free and keep any advertising money they have on their site. The result is that the wire services will have fewer paying customers and their quality will decrease as well.

If law can solve this problem, which I'm pretty certain it cant, its goal should be to funnel money away from the free-riders and towards the real news-collecting companies, whether they be print or a wire service. I don't think Posner's suggested strengthening of copyright would work, but it is a nice thought.


One point that no one has mentioned is that one big reason that newspapers are failing is that they are competing with the U.S. Postal Service. Take a look in your mailbox. Most likely, over half of what is there every day is bulk advertising. Thirty years ago, that came in your newspaper. Then the USPS made delivery of those ads cheaper by mail. Today, newspapers are making less than what they would have without the US government's competition for delivering ads. That means that they make less profit, print a lower quality paper, or have to raise subscription or ad prices.


This problem will correct itself. Either there will be few enough real news generators that they can safely charge for their content or there will remain several real news generators in which case we shouldn't worry about it.


1. A newspaper without readers is fishwrap.

Newspapers can voluntarily take themselves off the net.

If newspapers want to follow their readers to the net, the price is giving up control of their content to their readers discretion.

Readers don't want information that they can't use, that is, republish, copy and forward. Make these things impossible and we readers are gone.

Paywalls haven't worked except in a few limited instances where paying (e. g, Wall St Journal) is tax deductible.

2. The best coverage of any newsworthy event is from people who were there when it happened.

Reporters can't be everywhere, nor are they. Newspapers only report old news. They get new news off the net ... like their readers.

3. Newspapers haven't operated in the public interest for years. Public interest reporting, when it existed, was a frill made possible by the paper's monopoly delivery system profits.

There's no public interest in supporting the newspaper's obsolete business model.

There's better reporting in The New Yorker.


Whatever happened to local News content? I know more about what's going on in other countries and the like than I do in my own frontyard. It has become so much more easy and cheaper to just "tear" off a News story from the Wire Services than hire and train News Reporters and hard workers. As for the new "Medium" of online content, the "Press" is just going to have to adapt or perish. Much like it has with Radio and Television.


At least now we have John Kerry to save the day...good luck with that...

Kerry Aims to Save Newspapers


I really don not think that the newspaper will ever recover!:(


A study last year by the Neiman Foundation found that at least 85% of all the content on "news" websites, blogs, radio and television originated with a print newspaper or its free website. In other words, new media is much more reactive when it comes to news than proactive.

When the print newspapers and their websites go away, so will much of the blogosphere and alternate sources that everyone seems to be counting on.


This is an excellent post ,thanks a lot ,I'm grateful to you .


great post thank you


Another reason for the demise of newspapers is that the quality of journalism as been in decline for some time now, independent of economic circumstances.

Not only does one find news content online practically free but one can search a variety of sources and therefore perspectives and thus can gain a greater insight into whatever news story one is interested in.

Journalism that raises questions, that provokes, that stimulates thought is a thing of the past, at least in newspapers but online this is not so.


I do think that internet will take the place of newspapers.


nice post
greetings from indonesia


Even without going into the copyright expansion argument, I can see one really big hole in this plan: the newspaper industry has been failing for decades, even before the Internet was available for public consumption.

Papers like the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner (RIP 1984) did not fail because someone stole their content by linking to it or by making it available for free online. They failed because their business model (and that of the whole newspaper industry) was based upon above-average profits, which are going away.

Publishers themselves killed off their industry when they let local coverage die in their zeal to focus on wire stories. If 500 papers all print mostly the same wire service stories, what reason is there for more than one or two of them to exist? If you want readers, you have to cover LOCAL news that is not available from any other outlet. As long as papers fail to respond to the needs of their communities, they are doomed to failure.

Many news stories are merely unresearched ripoffs of Wikipedia. Reporters do not dig into things, seeking to uncover, research, and reveal. Instead, they trundle from press conference to press conference and relish in the details of the latest celebrity divorce. Away with that tripe and trivia! Away with your moralizing and attempts to persuade me to your political view! Give me the what, the who, the where, the how, and the why, and let me decide whether it is good or bad and how to react to it.

That said, I love the dead-tree version of the news, but it is sixteen hours old by the time I have a chance to read it. It is far better to turn on the TV or read it online soon after the event, even without the delightful tactile sensations that accompany the print version of the news.


Anon., June 26, 10:55 am,

I guess paraphrasing is a form of flattery. ;)

From a former Paperboy, who spent hours, days, months and years delivering the News and trying to buildup his Route. At least, it helped pay for part of the College expenses down the Road. Even still, Saturday and Sunday mornings are still a B****. Not too mention, cheapsskate customers who are never home and don't want to pay up. :)

Anon., June 24, 5:17 am



Kerry gave serious consideration to allowing newspapers an antitrust exemption so they could negotiate with Google rather than get picked off one at a time


And this is why, folks, why the future of the USA is doomed. When you have legal minds like Judge Posner propose such a stupid and boneheaded proposal to save a DYING INDUSTRY, you know that USA has no future.

I'm appalled at how misguided and SILLY Judge Posner's advice is.


your articles are interesting and thought provoking. keep posting.


I would like to link back to this article from my blog, to get more people to view your blog post, however I dont want to infringe your copyright.

I did after all find this blog post by a link from another site. Did they break the law?

What a ridiculous idea you have of the web.

Why provide a trackback url? That is just asking people to distribute your content on the web.

If newspapers are not willing to innovate then they will die. This is the same as everything throughout the years. Things move on with technology. It always has and it always will.

Or would you prefer technology to never evolve? Shall we all sit round our log fires in our caves, or is that too far?

Of course their ad revenue decreased. People realised that they couldn't work out how valuable it was to have an ad in printed media. They would always be taking a gamble. How many people read the advert? They have no real idea. People started to realise this when other ad streams appeared online. They could start to analyze their ads, and could positively tell how many people click on the link.

I dont read newspapers anymore. The question you need to ask is why? The answer is, half the time the newspapers have articles I dont care about, and the other half, I have already found out about somewhere else online.


i agree. however there is always going to be someone that doesnt have a computer that would like a paper. a paper is also less expensive for that day. GREAT blog.


JyYvhf comment1 ,


This is a blindingly stupid perspective by a lawyer who knows nothing of the underlying economics of newspapers.

Journalist salaries are a minor component of the cost structure of operating a daily newspaper.

Most newspapers are still profitable today. Some of them are making 30 to 40 percent profit margins.

Where newspapers are taking a financial hit, it's coming from drops in classified advertising that would NOT be protected by any sort of copyright law changes, and from the demolition of locally owned advertisers by Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

Where newspaper OWNERS are in trouble, it's their own damned fault for gambling big with other people's money. It's not Google or blogs that created this mess, and killing the Internet will not fix anything.


The people serving the copyrighted content already has to consent to being linked from 3rd parties. When they receive a request they are provided with information about where the user clicked on a link. They (the content provider) decide what content to provide- e.g. "Sorry, links not allowed from someguy.com".


Mr. Posner, I saw you speak a couple of times while I was at Harvard Law school and found you to be a thoughtful and intellectually honest man. Your post worries me because I feel like you are acting atypically in taking a very strong stance on this subject with little knowledge about the subject matter and with heavy biases towards the status quo merely because they are already enfranchised and established entities. I hope that you will re-consider your thoughts and continue to do research on the subject.

This is an example: I came to this post via a link on a techcrunch article after reading a paraphrased version of your thoughts on techcrunch. My presence (and others who are doing likewise) adds value to your site: a) if you had advertisements here people like me would click them, b) your reputation, your blog’s brand, and the memory of your arguments increases and becomes more popular with me and people I share you with, c) my comment actually adds value to you (increases likelihood of more visitors via search or links, and it also potentially helps achieve the goal of many blogs by challenging your opinions and making them more well-founded).

Online traditional news sources (like nytimes.com) do everything they can to get people to link to their content. To people who make a business on the web, links are described as "the currency of the web" and actually proprietize your content and extend its value across the web as opposed to devaluing it. Look into the SEO industry, look into back-linking, there is a huge amount of information here that you should learn about before taking a stance as strong as you have about repealing fair use and standard practices in a new technology that actually greatly increases social value by its ability to take advantage of zero marginal costs.

Sure the internet is a disruptive technology, and maybe perennial giants like the New York Times will have to change to survive as power is decentralized in the market to individuals via blogs and real-time news sources like twitter, but that doesn’t mean that the government should step in and arbitrarily save the most profitable embodiment of traditional organs just because they are a more centralized / organized / traditional interest group. They will survive, just in a more efficient / value-producing embodiment for society after they internalize the cost of finding this new embodiment (like every other company has to do in changing times). This shift is inevitable no matter the government safeguards that are imposed. The best way to increase the Good through changing times is to hold fast to our traditional values and to choose NOT to sacrifice them in cases of surprising new circumstances—from the Patriot Bill to repealing standard copyright protections / free speech laws on the internet.

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