I wasn't referring to news sites, but rather, content farms, splogs, and other similar types of garbage. The criticism was directed against those who churn out worthless or reprocessed content for the sole purpose of baiting search engines. Nobody will pay for this content. Its only value exists in suckering people into viewing advertising.
Yes, this material is often so bad that the ads are more interesting than the content. This gives these sites a huge advantage over those that publish high quality material, where people will be focused on the content rather than the ads. Advertising is not a good way to fund quality content.
The Internet suffers from information overload. We need better and easier access to more relevant information, not more raw information.
Right. Note that a professional contribution need not be new material, but can also involve compiling or publishing digests of existing material, including user contributions.
People will pay for better information, especially if they don't have to spend an hour Googling their way through garbage to save $0.50.
Getting people to open their wallets is a difficult thing, particularly if they can't first get a hint of what they're paying for, and when there's a plethora of almost-as-good free material.
News sites serve an important function and need formal revenue streams. One option is micropayments. Sure, you can get all your news from copy and paste jobs on forums, but is it really worth spending hours trawling for news if a viable cash micropayment system existed for you to subscribe to online news without sharing all your personal billing information with the news site? One of the biggest barriers to sub-dollar micropayments is the traditional paradigm of online billing, which passes along enormous amounts of personal information which is unnecessary for providing the service. A news site doesn't need a name, an address, a phone number, or other such information to provide their service.
Yes, I do think that micro-payments will be a significant part of future media funding, using a pre-loaded wallet system. But at the moment the big sites would rather try to sell subscription bundles, in an attempt to transfer their print readers online.
Media sites only want to know about their subscribers so that both they and their advertisers can better market to them. There's less need for this if micropayments both reduce the news outlet's reliance on advertising and eliminate the need for them to sell subscription renewals, and now that reader feedback can be based on site access statistics and online surveys.
Local newspapers can stay competitive by facilitating local marketplaces, such as classified ads, which aren't the same type of ads. A classified section is more of a marketplace (like eBay) where people intentionally visit to transact, which differs from the Internet advertising we're familiar with, being offtopic, out of band noise crammed somewhere it doesn't belong and isn't helpful.
Highly-local newspapers are still doing OK with classifieds, and a lot of websites do well by charging for job postings (one type of advertising that is
necessary, hopefully via search-and-browse rather than in-your-face).
But online, local papers lose much of their advantage, since a Google search is often more efficient than searching or browsing the local paper's site. So I think even they are ultimately threatened.
FOSS spreads through community goodwill. It doesn't need to advertise. The best piece of software will benefit from person to person advocacy starting with its userbase. Ironically, this is what the ABP project is losing, because users can no longer recommend it as a good piece of software to nuke all ads by default.
Free things propagate well without marketing, and open things can route around damage. But my point in my previous post was that FOSS is ultimately funded through either advertising, or products that need to be sold and marketed.