Starting Monday, The Irish Times will be available on line for free. Anyone with Internet access can keep up with the latest from Dublin and all points west.
It's a case of keeping up with the neighbors. The New York Times tried going to a pay-to-read system, but they soon discovered that columnists thought to be worth the price weren't so popular after all. Money didn't flow in, and no one rose up in great protest over the fees. They simply went elsewhere for news. The entire paper is now free.
More and more newspapers are going to free on-line editions to attract and keep readers, since fewer and fewer are buying the hard copy. Advertisers are thinking Internet these days, and a newspaper must have an Internet presence to attract the advertisers who pay the bills. The green issue can be paraded. of course, save a tree and there's no newsprint needed...or unionized printers working the presses.
Simple economics, really.
Monday morning, if you've a hankering to see what Brian Cowen's been up to over the weekend and what Enda Kenny has to say about it, click on http://www.irishtimes.com/ and read away. Then try to figure out how a paper can stay in business without charging for content, with nothing but advertising revenue to cover costs. Is it any wonder that there's no money in writing?