Well, done, thought provoking article at: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/.
The first two paragraphs sum up the problem nicely:
Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating
piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami
Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the
sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including
the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a
2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a
teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself,
because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to
One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was
Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I
remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old
kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates
you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about
that conversation a lot these days.
Add to that other disruptive forces, and I'm starting to think that newspapers won't be around in 5-10 years ... who will pay for something that is free!?!