From: Marvin <physchem_at_TELOCITY.COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 15:09:38 -0400

Max Frankel's last column in the NY Times Magazine Section appeared
yesterday (Sunday, July 9), with the tile "The Nirvana News". The subject
is the future of newspapers. A couple of quotes are:

"If you think a newspaper must always involve an imprint of inks on costly
pulp that is processed from Canadian trees, trucked into urban factories and
trucked out again to ever more widely dispersed readers, then its prospects
are dim indeed. There is no feature of that paper product that will not soon
be replicated and improved by digital technologies. . . . So when will you
get The Nirvana News? Alas, not until the Web worshipers quit their
rhapsodizing about "free" digital news and figure out a way to pay for its
production. The Web has so far supplanted only the newspaper's trucks. It
has not produced very good reporter robots or electronic editors. Nor has it
figured out how to pay the costly humans needed to gather, interpret, write
and package information in the coming world." (Anyone can read the whole
column - free - at NYT.com. You have to register, or sign in if you are
already registered, and then find your way to the Extended Search and use
the phrase "The Nirvana News"." That should take you to a list of search
results with the item you are seeking at the top of the list.)

Frankel wrote about newspapers, but most of his column is equally applicable
for scholarly publications. Like Frankel's column, the meeting last week at
the NY Academy of Medicine was divided between the wonderful advantages of
digital publishing and the economic questions. There was no dissension at
the meeting about the advantages (which doesn't mean that everyone is in
favor of it), but the real dispute (polite on the first day, less so on the
second) comes down to "who will pay".

Most newspapers pay their writers, scholarly journals don't. Both have
costs beyond paying (or not paying) for manuscripts. There are already some
scientific journals that are free to the reader - advertisers pay for them,
the content of the journals reflects that, and the quality is markedly
different from the journals we need to buy. Similarly, there are advertiser
supported newspapers (usually weeklies) with second- or third-rate news

Keeping in mind "he who pays the piper calls the tune", we need some
realistic discussion on who will pay for free-to-the-reader scholarly
publication. I didn't hear it at the meeting, and I haven't seen much on
this forum.

Marvin Margoshes
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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