He who pays the piper gets to pick the tune

You’ve got to admit, all those googled-eyed gurus of the Internet are pretty convincing with their liberating visions of the wild and free online world where the natural state is for information to gush from a billion intellectual springs and form confluences of social networking intercourse magnanimously sponsored by advertisers hoping to tantalize the browsing masses into parting with some of their lucre betwixt searches for the latest vapid viral video.

Newspapers have been giving away their content for so long now there is no conceivable way to persuade people to pay for it, they tell us with such certitude. Yes, and the bums on skid row have been surviving on handouts and spare change for so long there is no way that will ever change.

Advertising support is the only way to go the CEO of Google, which makes 98 percent of its revenue from advertising, recently assured an audience of newspaper publishers.

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post, which pays its stable of bloggers zilch and makes its nut off advertising, pooh-poohs the concept of consumers actually paying for news. That might mean she’d’ve to pay to access the material she and her poorly paid pundits filch for content.

I wonder why the publishers of books, the producers of movies and the recorders of music haven’t discovered this universal truth that all intellectual property should be free and its creators financed through a few unobtrusive advertising spots?

How long before the news reading public discovers that he who pays the piper gets to pick the tune?

There was a bit of flap this past week at the L.A. Times when the paper sold a front-page, L-shaped ad with a faux news story about an upcoming NBC feature called “Southland.” Think there’ll be a less-than-positive revenue forthcoming from the Times about that NBC show? Maybe, they are still charging for the printed paper and have a modicum of a tradition of objectivity left.

But when the only source of revenue is from advertising, who are you going trust? The news source you pay to be fair and accurate, while supplementing the bottom line with advertising, or the one who gets all its revenue from the advertisers?

Information, like most everything else, establishes its price by its value.

Front page of L.A. Times
Front page of L.A. Times