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Two dozen newspaper publishers, including representatives from the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), Gannett (NYSE: GCI), E. W. Scripps, Advance Publications, McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) Company, Hearst Newspapers, MediaNews Group, the Associated Press, Philadelphia Media Holdings, Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE) and Freedom Communications, quietly attended the Newspaper Association of America’s annual meeting in Chicago today to discuss ways of charging readers for online content. The Atlantic’s James Warren has the agenda for the “Models to Monetize Content” conference. The event was organized by the Newspaper Association of America, though it was not listed on its website.
The private discussion was first mentioned back in April by Alan D. Mutter on his Reflections of a Newsosaur. CORRECTION: Mutter did not write about yesterday’s NAA meeting in any way; his post referred to an earlier NAA gathering held in San Diego last April.
Warren, who oversaw the layoffs of 100 staffers at the Chicago Tribune last year as the paper’s managing editor, said that expects a large number of the publishers who attended to start charging for some online content because “they don’t know what else to do.” More after the jump
Despite an appearance by NAA’s CEO John Sturm a few weeks ago on The Colbert Report, the NAA has put forward a less public face in the past year. In addition to no longer packaging quarterly revenues last year, the NAA no longer publicizes its annual meeting, considering that most of the industry’s news has become routinely grim.
As for presentation, Warren noted that a few copyeditors could have been employed to avoid panel descriptions like the second session’s “Journalism Online: Presentation on proposed service to charge for access to newspaper content and to license that content that (sic) online aggregators.” Other topics included “Aggregating User Data” and “Fair Syndication Consortium/Attributor,” which looked at ways to track newspaper content across the web and get aggregators to pay up.
— NiemanLabs: Why so hush-hush? Not because the newspaper executives are opposed to an open debate. It’s because they’re worried about possible antitrust violations. Alluding to a memo from NAA’s Sturm, NiemanLabs points out that an industry gathering to discuss setting up paywalls could have the appearance of an illegal cartel. Newspapers would like an antitrust exemption to build up paywalls across their sites and fashion some industry guidelines. NiemanLabs counts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a supporter, but the Obama administration is against it.