Sunday, May 13, 2007


Minnesota alt-weekly editor departs with insightful Q&A about MSM future

Paul Schmelzer of the website "Minnesota Monitor," posted a Q&A interview on April 6, 2007, with the former editor of the Twin Cities City Pages, the dominant alternative weekly in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The editor, Steve Perry, had quit after a chain took over the weekend. Perry, according to Smelzer's intro, is "busy developing a website plan for a newspaper in another city, while considering ideas for a future web project of his own." The full interview can be found at:

Here are a couple of excerpts of Perry's verbatim comments:

On finding a revenue model . . .

"The main issue for journalism is still monetizing the web, making a web platform pay for the kind of staffing that can produce useful original reporting. I have no idea how that will happen, but the smartest people I know on the marketing side of the internet think part of the answer will be elements of paid content. I know that's heresy to most users -- who doesn't like content that's all free all the time? But it's not all bad from the readers' standpoint, either. There's nothing like making people pay for content to ratchet up the pressure to make it ambitious."

On network neutrality/control . . .

"And beyond the pressures to make it a more exclusive tool of corporate commerce, there is also a lot of political anxiety about how wide-open dialogue and dissent can be on the internet. Do you remember the phrase the late Samuel Huntington coined to describe the political tumult surrounding Vietnam? He called it a "crisis of democracy," meaning there was too damn much democracy, too many voices demanding to be heard. The internet is a continual crisis of democracy in that sense, and it's naive to suppose it will stay as open in the future without political fights. There are those people who deem it unthinkable, or even technologically impossible, to limit American citizens' access to information on the web, but they're just plain wrong. (Every new communications medium spawns this kind of utopianism -- there were people in the '20s who thought radio would bring the revolution, and people in the '50s who thought TV would increase civic participation. Heh.) It's not impossib!
le to hamstring web users. The best thing I've read on the subject is Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu's book, 'Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World.' You have to read it if you haven't."


Web Page:
Paul Schmelzer is a Minneapolis-based writer. He blogs for Eyeteeth, the Walker Art Center, and Worldchanging-Twin Cities. His writings on, media, art and activism have appeared in Adbusters, Alternet, Ode, The Rake, Utne, The Progressive, and Raw Vision.

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