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There hasn't been a discussion about journalism for months that didn't dwell on the fact that the old media models are failing. Readership and viewers are leaving the old standbys in droves, and advertising revenue was falling rapidly even before the recession hit. Whether it's the lose of a competitive advantage, the moving of classified business to craigslist, or the rise of new media is anyone's guess.
What is a more recent development is that a couple of titans of the old world, the New York Times and the Associated Press, have decided that simply staying the course in the face of inevitable doom was just taking too long. Being a proactive group, they decided to simply go insane instead.
The real genius is coming from the AP though. They aren't going to try and hide their content behind a subscription or stop people form using it. They are just going to embed "code" in each article that will charge anyone who sees their articles a royalty fee. Search engines, websites, blogs, doesn't matter. The code will see all and track all (and report back to the AP on usage, of course). I have to admit I'm not sure if I'm more confused by the insanity involved in thinking this is technically feasible, or the stupidity involved in thinking everyone will just go along. And this isn't some idle talk, or a CEO who doesn't know anything mouthing off somewhere, this is their honest to god strategy and they've sunk significant amounts of money into making it happen.
What to do with the old forms of journalism is an interesting question and one that will impact a staggering number of aspects in our day to day lives. Wasting time on idiotic ideas like this is just like being inside the music industry a decade ago, with the added twist that the morons involved will actually hurt society at large when they fail.