One assertion I’ve seen David Simon make in multiple places is that newspapers blew it by not charging for online access to their content when they could.
I think he’s just wrong about that, as does former newspaperman Scott Rosenberg:
I always saw print journalism as doomed. I loved it anyway, the way you might love a beautiful old car whose engine leak is too costly to repair. There was no way to know how much longer the old newspapers would run, but — outside of exceptional cases like the Times and the Journal, which face their own struggles — they plainly weren’t going to run forever. When the opportunity to leave for the Web came along in 1995, I took it without hesitation.
Here we are, a dozen years later, and only now does it seem to be dawning on many newsroom veterans that the entire industry missed the boat. Simon blames narrow-minded executives, and they are surely at fault, but they were also stuck in a transition that was bound to overpower them. Complaining that newspapers should have charged for their online wares “when they had the chance” is foolish and self-deluding — like wondering why you missed the chance to boost your restaurant’s profits by charging for air. That model was never going to work.