[The New York Times](http://www.nytimes.com) reports that [more papers, including themselves, are considering a for-pay model.](http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2005%2F03%2F14%2Fbusiness%2Fmedia%2F14paper.html) [(Via Hypergene)](http://www.hypergene.net/blog/weblog.php?id=P263)
If paid content becomes the model that most general circulation newspapers move to, it will be the beginning of the end of those brands.
Contributing to the F.U.D. about online editions comes an ‘analyst’:
> “Newspapers are cannibalizing themselves,” said Frederick W. Searby, an advertising and publishing analyst at J. P. Morgan.
Unless the last [two](http://www.indystar.com) [papers](http://www.ajc.com) I worked at are extreme outliers, the audience model for newspaper Web sites is generally one where there is some minor overlap between the print and online audience. But for the most part, the paper is reaching separate readers with their online edition.
That’s right, newspapers are expanding their readership!
Read it again, because for years we’ve been told the opposite.
But watch out, just when the newspaper industry has a chance of becoming relevant, timely and useful to a new generation of readers (the same generation we’ve been chasing, to no avail, in print for years), along come the analysts, MBAs, and PHBs with moves to cut that off at the knees.
Here’s what will happen if papers start charging:
1. Most of their audience will leave, (entrepreneurs take note, here’s a potential emerging market segment)
2. Just enough of the audience will pay that the aforementioned analysts, MBAs and PHBs will say, “Look, we’re making money, told you so.”
3. Newspapers will drop off the new-media radar as bloggers, search engines, aggregators, etc. are unable to provide _free_ marketing to these publications by linking to, and writing about, them.
4. I, and others, will say “Look your no longer relevant, see we told you so.”
What are my plans? I’m going to retire a billionaire after trademarking the phrase I Told You So™.
**Update:** [Steve Outing](http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=79730) agrees with me, sort of.