The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss has a good post that simultaneously shrugs off the whining about the decline of the traditional news media and dismisses the much-vaunted iTunes solution. Kiss points out that publishers still largely control media content, unlike record labels at the height of the file-sharing age, among a host of other problems with assuming some similarity between the two situations. New models for journalism won’t look anything like iTunes, Kiss speculates. Instead, they’ll look like souped-up versions of the online media already out there.
There’s another problem, I think, with comparing file-sharing to accessing print media online. Content isn’t just under the control of publishers; it’s (mostly) offered for free online by those very publishers, on sanctioned websites, with no uncertainty or risk. Part of what makes iTunes attractive (I assume – I’ve never bought anything through it) is that it’s a virus-free alternative to torrenting or file-sharing, and the quality of the file is guaranteed. But it’s not like anyone worries that some article is going to turn out to be a virus or a garbled bootleg.