The debate over free vs. paid news content is heating up. Traditional daily newspapers are dying because readers are shifting habits online, but advertising revenue isn't following them en masse.
Circulation revenue is going away because the news content is being offered online for free. That's good for the consumer today, but if the revenue that pays the reporter's salary is gone, so too will be the reporter. And the news stories that they produced.
The only visible solution is for news organizations to charge for their content. Nobody wants to be the first to do it because consumers can find similar stories for free on other sites. But without necessary revenue, those sources will eventually dry up as well.
The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times charge for their content. And they are able to charge premium ad rates because advertisers know that their readers paid to be on that site. This means they are likely to spend substantial time on the site, return to it frequently, and value the content more than other sources.
We need news organizations to survive if we are going to continue to get balanced news coverage. Paying for their content is the only solution in sight.
Note: Cable companies are capping bandwidth usage in some markets and/or allowing customers to choose a usage plan much the same way mobile phone plans work. With video streaming up 40% from March 08 to March 09 (Nielsen), bandwidth is becoming more of a commodity.