Is Google Helping Put an End to Free News Online?

You won’t believe what I read in the paper today!

google checkout

I don’t read the newspaper because I get my news online for free like everyone else.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the U.S. newspaper industry has had its worst year since 1950, with plummeting readership and advertising revenue. How will newspapers survive?  My beloved search engine Google thinks it may have the answer, and this answer means no more free news on the internet.

Google submitted an 8-page document to the Newspaper Association of America in response to a request for ideas on how to monetize their online content.  The proposal outlined a micropayment system, which will allow users to buy subscriptions to different news sources, as well as purchase articles à la carte.  Users would sign into Google Checkout once, and be able to access multiple vendors.  Basically, to read news from content that newspapers have posted online, you will have to pay to play.

Of course, Google will benefit from the revenue that they will collect in fees from the vendors using the payment system.  What I am most interested in, however, is whether or not this could be the future of most (if not all) content on the internet.

Will the “free” internet as we know it not be so free anymore?  What do you think?