Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Pandora's Box 1981: The Online Newspaper Experiment

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 3, 2009

It's a Pandora's box that the newspaper business probably wishes it shouldn't have opened.

I just viewed an excellent video posted by Patrick Hinojosa. It is a TV news report from 1981 in which newscenter 4 describes a new project, involving the San Francisco Examiner and several other large newspapers, to enable online viewing of their news stories.

The newspapers published full page ads to encourage people to sign up for the experiment.

Only a few hundred signed up for the experiment in online newspapers probably because it took 2 hours to download a full newspaper and Compuserve charged $5 per hour.

David Cole, an editor at the SF Examiner is quoted saying:

"We're not in it to make money . . . we probably not going to lose a lot, but we aren't going to make much either."

Prophetic words indeed! Unfortunately online news is costing the newspaper business a lot of money as it has been unable to monetize that service.

Here is the link to the 2.17 min video.

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