Google’s Plan to Save Newspapers

Photo by flickr user <a href="">tigerpixel</a> used under a creative commons license

Can Google save the newspaper industry?

That’s the question being posed, now that the search giant has announced it’s developing a platform to microcharge for online news content.

The plan promises a win-win scenario: The news industry finally profits online, while Google takes 30 percent off the top (much like Apple with iPhone apps).

Based on the (rough) outline, there’s plenty to be excited about. The proposal involves a fee to access multiple sites, a clever way to assuage commitment issues. And Google is, after all, Google—an online behemoth with a ton of power to leverage.

The downside: Precedent. There has been scant luck with charging for content so far, so who’s to know if anything will work? And getting the news industry on board may prove difficult, considering Google’s contested aggregation practices.

But whether it pans out or not, it’s good to hear that interesting ideas are being tossed around. Because if something isn’t done to save quality, original reporting soon, we’ll all be the worse for it.