Here's an idea: old media should be allowed to collude

news-boxes-lat-dn.jpgBrad Greenberg, the editor-in-chief of the UCLA Entertainment Law Review, and the Jewish Journal's (now longtime) God Blogger, argues in the main UCLA Law Review that the best hope for newspapers online is an exemption from anti-trust laws. It should be a narrow exemption, and just for a limited time. Letting the news industry work together and set prices for awhile will protect consumer choices and preserve First Amendment values, he Greenberg writes. It also will preserve the journalists, a societal good he says should be furthered.

The purpose is not to preserve two-newspaper towns or even multi-newspaper regions—but simply to preserve newsgatherers. Competing newspapers need to collaborate if they are going to overcome their prisoner’s dilemma and move toward charging for online content....

The exemption this Comment proposes would give newspaper executives a limited window within which to gather and collectively develop a definitive model to charge for access to online content. Participants could collude on the exact date to put content behind a paywall and decide on the application of the paywall (1) to all online content or only certain sections of the newspapers, (2) to readers from the moment they visit a newspaper’s website or only after a reader exceeds his or her gratis limit, and/or (3) to stories individually or to the entire bundle of newspaper content on a subscription basis.

Newspaper executives would be free to set that price at whatever point they felt the market would support, and government oversight would be limited to ensuring that newspapers did not exceed the scope of the exemption.

He discusses the Los Angeles Times, MediaNews Group and the future of the Register in Orange County in his argument. Greenberg is a former reporter for the UCLA Daily Bruin and the Daily News who started writing about religion on The God Blog at the Daily News in 2007, billing himself as "a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks." Greenberg and the blog moved to the Jewish Journal the same year. He won the LA Press Club's best blog award in 2008, and the following year left fulltime journalism to go to law school. He's in his final year at UCLA Law.

Here are more papers on the media by Greenberg.

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