The big news yesterday in the Wall Street Journal was that the New York Times has discovered the Internet. They didn't exactly put it that way, because the truth be told, the WSJ has yet to really discover the Internet themselves. It comes down to the publishers of both newspapers not having understood that the working model for Internet news distribution is free access. So, the NYT wins this particular race, discarding their subscription based model first.
This is just what I've been writing about lately, why authors need to create a resource on the Internet, rather than a store. That's what brings all those lovely visitors from the search engines who may then shop in the store if you add one, but who will go shopping in other stores for your books if you convince them they're worth reading. The NYT hadn't planned on Google et al becoming the driving force behind Internet traffic. They figured if somebody wanted "news" they would naturally go to the NYT. The WSJ figures the same thing, for financial news.
Where they both went wrong is thinking that people in the Internet age look for information in terms of news and non-news. People look for information in terms of the Google search box. The vast majority of what is printed in the NYT and the WSJ isn't news by any stretch of the imagination, it's analysis, opinion, health, human interest. When people want research the latest kidney treatment options or figure out why honey bees are dying, they wouldn't start with a newspaper, they would start with Google. If the newspapers aren't open to Google and the search engines, even if they have the best and freshest content, they are just throwing those visitors away.
I spend a lot of time poking fun at NYC publishers for only starting to talk about the new world ten years after the boats sailed. I suspect they'll get it right eventually, just like the Times, but they'll have lost a lot of steam to Wikipedia and small information entrepreneurs by then. Not that I'm complaining:-)