Monday, December 7, 2009

Publisher Lays Out Plan to Save Newspapers

When Axel Springer, the founder of the German newspaper publishing business bearing his name, laid the cornerstone in 1959 for a high-rise headquarters in Berlin only steps away from the tense line separating East from West, people called him crazy, arrogant or both.

While the Berlin Wall has come and gone, Springer executives are looking into another ideologically divided realm — cyberspace — with a similarly stubborn mien.

Springer, which publishes the biggest daily in Europe, the tabloid Bild, as well as other newspapers in Germany and Eastern Europe, says it wants publishers to get paid for their work on the Internet, at a time when many people assume that online news should be free.

“The meta-philosophy of free — we should get rid of this philosophy,” said Christoph Keese, Springer’s head of public affairs and an architect of its online strategy. “A highly industrialized world cannot survive on rumors. It needs quality journalism, and that costs money.”

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