Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

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Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Bod Notbod
This is still up in the air but it has been mentioned on UK television
news in various contexts recently: because the business model of free
online newspapers funded by advertising doesn't seem to be brining in
the bucks, there is much discussion in the media as to whether online
newspapers will start charging their customers.

It's just this second struck me that this could have dire consequences
for Wikipedia. Presumably we have millions of citations that point to
online newspaper content. If they decide to put their archives behind
a pay wall, what's going to happen to those citations? Are we going to
say that we accept that people will have to pay if they now wish to
verify a statement? Or are we going to have to a) laboriously
re-reference everything and b) lose a great deal of content that we've
been unable to find alternative citations for?

Arguably I'm jumping the gun here. But it may be worth discussing in
advance as I reckon this issue isn't going to go away.

Does anyone think I should post this to the 'Foundation' mailing list too?

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

michael west-3
We cite books which aren't available online and in some cases out of
print. I don't see the problem.

On 07/08/2009, Bod Notbod <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This is still up in the air but it has been mentioned on UK television
> news in various contexts recently: because the business model of free
> online newspapers funded by advertising doesn't seem to be brining in
> the bucks, there is much discussion in the media as to whether online
> newspapers will start charging their customers.
>
> It's just this second struck me that this could have dire consequences
> for Wikipedia. Presumably we have millions of citations that point to
> online newspaper content. If they decide to put their archives behind
> a pay wall, what's going to happen to those citations? Are we going to
> say that we accept that people will have to pay if they now wish to
> verify a statement? Or are we going to have to a) laboriously
> re-reference everything and b) lose a great deal of content that we've
> been unable to find alternative citations for?
>
> Arguably I'm jumping the gun here. But it may be worth discussing in
> advance as I reckon this issue isn't going to go away.
>
> Does anyone think I should post this to the 'Foundation' mailing list too?
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Bod Notbod
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM, michael west<[hidden email]> wrote:

> We cite books which aren't available online and in some cases out of
> print. I don't see the problem.

I take your point. Although a difference strikes me. I'm not sure it's
valid but I'll throw it out there.

Where a book (possibly out of print) is cited we should be giving
details of Title, Author, ISBN and possibly Edition.

With newspaper links we should be giving Newspaper, Journalist, Access Date...

I'm wondering if, if newspaper content goes behind a pay wall, we
would really have to be giving citation information that pertains to
the actual printed copy of the article, ie, Newspaper, Print Date and
Page Number?

Also, though you don't see a problem and are comfortable with how you
would handle this development I wonder how you can be sure how editors
(particularly anon and policy ignorant editors) will respond to this
new turn of events. People will have an entirely reasonable
expectation that if they click on a citation link that they will,
indeed, be taken to a page that backs up any given assertion (and not
a registration screen). If that doesn't happen they may respond by
removing the link and the content it was supposed to verify.

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Bod Notbod
> This is still up in the air but it has been mentioned on UK television
> news in various contexts recently: because the business model of free
> online newspapers funded by advertising doesn't seem to be brining in
> the bucks, there is much discussion in the media as to whether online
> newspapers will start charging their customers.
>
> It's just this second struck me that this could have dire consequences
> for Wikipedia. Presumably we have millions of citations that point to
> online newspaper content. If they decide to put their archives behind
> a pay wall, what's going to happen to those citations? Are we going to
> say that we accept that people will have to pay if they now wish to
> verify a statement? Or are we going to have to a) laboriously
> re-reference everything and b) lose a great deal of content that we've
> been unable to find alternative citations for?
>
> Arguably I'm jumping the gun here. But it may be worth discussing in
> advance as I reckon this issue isn't going to go away.
>
> Does anyone think I should post this to the 'Foundation' mailing list
> too?
>

All that is required is a reliable source, properly cited; not a free
source.

Whatever happens to the newspaper business, there will be mass
distribution of the information they generate; otherwise, the new, viable
business plan would not work.

Fred



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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Andrew Gray-3
In reply to this post by Bod Notbod
2009/8/7 Bod Notbod <[hidden email]>:

> I'm wondering if, if newspaper content goes behind a pay wall, we
> would really have to be giving citation information that pertains to
> the actual printed copy of the article, ie, Newspaper, Print Date and
> Page Number?

We should really be giving publication date (which usually equates to
print date, if only because the newspapers fudge it accordingly)
anyway, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem. If someone's
quoting news stories without saying where they're from, hit them. ;-)

> Also, though you don't see a problem and are comfortable with how you
> would handle this development I wonder how you can be sure how editors
> (particularly anon and policy ignorant editors) will respond to this
> new turn of events. People will have an entirely reasonable
> expectation that if they click on a citation link that they will,
> indeed, be taken to a page that backs up any given assertion (and not
> a registration screen). If that doesn't happen they may respond by
> removing the link and the content it was supposed to verify.

It's interesting to note that we don't tend to find this with
scholarly sources - I don't think I've ever noticed anyone removing
JSTOR links or the like because "I can't see them", whilst people
*will* happily remove links to commercially locked news stories. I
think the expectation there is that we are used to one being
restricted-access, but we expect the other to be accessible, so if
it's not we assume something's wrong or it ought to be replaceable.

If news goes routinely to paid-access, well, we'll change our
expectations accordingly!

More broadly, there's a good side and a bad side to this. The bad
side, yes, a lot of our existing references will break, and it'll be a
bit harder to write good, robustly cited, articles in the future. On
the plus side, it might help wean us off an over-reliance on news
stories and (often slapdash) journalism as our preferred sources, and
that's got to be beneficial.

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Gwern Branwen
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 6:40 AM, Andrew Gray<[hidden email]> wrote:
> More broadly, there's a good side and a bad side to this. The bad
> side, yes, a lot of our existing references will break, and it'll be a
> bit harder to write good, robustly cited, articles in the future. On
> the plus side, it might help wean us off an over-reliance on news
> stories and (often slapdash) journalism as our preferred sources, and
> that's got to be beneficial.
>

What worries me on the topic is that as newspapers shift to online content - content which is *not* mirrored in the dead-tree version (this is increasingly common eg. I read that the Wall Street Journal does this now) - their pages become less and less reliably accessible.

For example, it wasn't that long ago that the NYT merged with another paper and broke all the links, and those missing articles (referenced by Wikipedia articles) couldn't be refound in the NYT website. If the original paper's domain blocked WebCitation and Internet Archive with robots.txt (as is very likely), then any of those articles which were online only are basically *gone*.

The set of newspapers that block caching/archiving of their webpages is large; as is the set that is moving online; we can also expect the set of newspapers that will fail or merge in coming years to be large as well. The union of these 3 sets is, I think, nonzero.

And that is a problem our conventional solutions (treat it as a print-ref; use an archived copy) don't address. I don't really have a solution, but I can predict that editors will continue to use them at their convenience, and that our articles will be damaged by those references' link-rot.

(A pity that the big archivers are so damn ethical!)

--
gwern
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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Bod Notbod
Bod Notbod wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM, michael west<[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>  
>> We cite books which aren't available online and in some cases out of
>> print. I don't see the problem.
>>    
>
> I take your point. Although a difference strikes me. I'm not sure it's
> valid but I'll throw it out there.
>
> Where a book (possibly out of print) is cited we should be giving
> details of Title, Author, ISBN and possibly Edition.
>
> With newspaper links we should be giving Newspaper, Journalist, Access Date...
>
> I'm wondering if, if newspaper content goes behind a pay wall, we
> would really have to be giving citation information that pertains to
> the actual printed copy of the article, ie, Newspaper, Print Date and
> Page Number?
>
> Also, though you don't see a problem and are comfortable with how you
> would handle this development I wonder how you can be sure how editors
> (particularly anon and policy ignorant editors) will respond to this
> new turn of events. People will have an entirely reasonable
> expectation that if they click on a citation link that they will,
> indeed, be taken to a page that backs up any given assertion (and not
> a registration screen). If that doesn't happen they may respond by
> removing the link and the content it was supposed to verify.
>  
Well, removing a reference that supports a fact in an article, without
providing a better reference instead, is quite a serious offence in our
terms. Note the tension between "you can edit this page right now",
which is part of the credo, and "you can verify this fact right now",
which isn't and never has been, however much some people have muddied
the water on verifiability. The obvious solution is the one I would
normally apply where possible: reference in parallel to a paper source
and and online source, even if the best online source is inferior to the
best paper source (which is typical in academic areas). So online free
sources and online subscription sources, within reason, should co-exist.
"Within reason" implies this is mainstream information, nothing very
private.

We can actually expect some sort of shake-out if newspaper journalism
becomes more subscription-led, where public libraries subscribe to
certain important and reliable newspapers.

Charles


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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Bod Notbod
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM, Charles
Matthews<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Note the tension between "you can edit this page right now",
> which is part of the credo, and "you can verify this fact right now",
> which isn't...

...unless it's a BLP, right?

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Charles Matthews
Bod Notbod wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM, Charles
> Matthews<[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>  
>> Note the tension between "you can edit this page right now",
>> which is part of the credo, and "you can verify this fact right now",
>> which isn't...
>>    
>
> ...unless it's a BLP, right?
>
>  
You say that why? There isn't a different definition of verifiability on
BLPs, as far as I know. There is a higher degree of attention to all
aspects of policy in relation to BLPs. Seems to fit as "difference of
degree, not difference of kind".

Charles


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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Bod Notbod
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 2:20 PM, Charles
Matthews<[hidden email]> wrote:

>>> Note the tension between "you can edit this page right now",
>>> which is part of the credo, and "you can verify this fact right now",
>>> which isn't...
>>>
>>
>> ...unless it's a BLP, right?
>>
>>
> You say that why? There isn't a different definition of verifiability on
> BLPs, as far as I know. There is a higher degree of attention to all
> aspects of policy in relation to BLPs. Seems to fit as "difference of
> degree, not difference of kind".

Looks like you're right. You know there's a bit of text that appears
when you're in editing mode between the edit window and the 'submit'
button? I seemed to remember that it said something different when you
edit a BLP than when you edit say 'donkey' or 'saucer'. But it
doesn't. Don't know where I got that idea from.

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

KillerChihuahua
Good idea though! What does eeryone think of writing a special Editnotice
for BLP articles? More effective possibly than the talkpage notice.

I can speak from experience, however, that some will still ignore. However,
every little bit helps, yes?

I am not speaking of writing policy there, mind you, merely a little notice
to be aware.

-kc-

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bod Notbod" <[hidden email]>
To: <[hidden email]>; "English Wikipedia"
<[hidden email]>
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 10:23 AM
Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

>
> Looks like you're right. You know there's a bit of text that appears
> when you're in editing mode between the edit window and the 'submit'
> button? I seemed to remember that it said something different when you
> edit a BLP than when you edit say 'donkey' or 'saucer'. But it
> doesn't. Don't know where I got that idea from.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>


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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Al Tally
In reply to this post by Bod Notbod
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 11:04 AM, Bod Notbod <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 10:40 AM, michael west<[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > We cite books which aren't available online and in some cases out of
> > print. I don't see the problem.
>
> I take your point. Although a difference strikes me. I'm not sure it's
> valid but I'll throw it out there.
>
> Where a book (possibly out of print) is cited we should be giving
> details of Title, Author, ISBN and possibly Edition.
>
> With newspaper links we should be giving Newspaper, Journalist, Access
> Date...
>
> I'm wondering if, if newspaper content goes behind a pay wall, we
> would really have to be giving citation information that pertains to
> the actual printed copy of the article, ie, Newspaper, Print Date and
> Page Number?
>

Thing is, I expect most people don't keep newspapers, but people do have
plenty of books, easily accessible in libraries and in their homes (and easy
to buy). I don't know the case for other people, but in my "local" library
old local newspapers are kept on microfilm, which makes accessing them
really tedious, especially if you don't know when whatever you're looking
for occurred. At least books are generally easily accessible. Newspapers
more often than not are chucked away by most people, which makes citing them
difficult if News Corp does this and other news sites follow suit.

--
Alex
(User:Majorly)
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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Carcharoth
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 4:16 PM, Al Tally<[hidden email]> wrote:

<snip>

> Thing is, I expect most people don't keep newspapers, but people do have
> plenty of books, easily accessible in libraries and in their homes (and easy
> to buy). I don't know the case for other people, but in my "local" library
> old local newspapers are kept on microfilm, which makes accessing them
> really tedious, especially if you don't know when whatever you're looking
> for occurred. At least books are generally easily accessible. Newspapers
> more often than not are chucked away by most people, which makes citing them
> difficult if News Corp does this and other news sites follow suit.

Is it possible that part of the reason people chuck newspapers away
and keep books is because they think books are (in general) more
reliable? Or to put it another way, newspapers are transient, and
books are more permanent. Some stuff in newspapers is really horribly
unreliable. Books as well. But the best books are nearly always better
than newspapers. Even if a book is written based in part on newspaper
reports, it should go beyond that and establish firmer reliability and
more research into whatever is being written about.

Carcharoth

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Emily Monroe
In reply to this post by KillerChihuahua
> I can speak from experience, however, that some will still ignore.  
> However, every little bit helps, yes?

I agree, every bit helps.

As for ignoring issue: I have a (somewhat badly formatted) edit notice  
telling people to please use the {{talkback}} temp, and sign/date  
their message. I finally put a message behind my user name telling  
people to use the {{talkback}} temp, since I suspected some people  
weren't even looking at my talk page, never mind edit it, and new  
people still don't sign their message. *sigh* Any solution for BLPs?

Emily
On Aug 7, 2009, at 9:52 AM, KillerChihuahua wrote:

> Good idea though! What does eeryone think of writing a special  
> Editnotice
> for BLP articles? More effective possibly than the talkpage notice.
>
> I can speak from experience, however, that some will still ignore.  
> However,
> every little bit helps, yes?
>
> I am not speaking of writing policy there, mind you, merely a little  
> notice
> to be aware.
>
> -kc-
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bod Notbod" <[hidden email]>
> To: <[hidden email]>; "English Wikipedia"
> <[hidden email]>
> Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 10:23 AM
> Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Online Newspapers Considering Subscription  
> Model
>
>>
>> Looks like you're right. You know there's a bit of text that appears
>> when you're in editing mode between the edit window and the 'submit'
>> button? I seemed to remember that it said something different when  
>> you
>> edit a BLP than when you edit say 'donkey' or 'saucer'. But it
>> doesn't. Don't know where I got that idea from.
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> WikiEN-l mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>>
>
>
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>
>
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
> Version: 8.5.392 / Virus Database: 270.13.45/2287 - Release Date:  
> 08/07/09
> 06:22:00
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>
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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Al Tally
Al Tally wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 11:04 AM, Bod Notbod wrote:
>  
>> I take your point. Although a difference strikes me. I'm not sure it's
>> valid but I'll throw it out there.
>>
>> Where a book (possibly out of print) is cited we should be giving
>> details of Title, Author, ISBN and possibly Edition.
>>
>> With newspaper links we should be giving Newspaper, Journalist, Access
>> Date...
>>
>> I'm wondering if, if newspaper content goes behind a pay wall, we
>> would really have to be giving citation information that pertains to
>> the actual printed copy of the article, ie, Newspaper, Print Date and
>> Page Number?
>>    
>
> Thing is, I expect most people don't keep newspapers, but people do have
> plenty of books, easily accessible in libraries and in their homes (and easy
> to buy). I don't know the case for other people, but in my "local" library
> old local newspapers are kept on microfilm, which makes accessing them
> really tedious, especially if you don't know when whatever you're looking
> for occurred. At least books are generally easily accessible. Newspapers
> more often than not are chucked away by most people, which makes citing them
> difficult if News Corp does this and other news sites follow suit.
>
>  
There are plenty of reasons for throwing out old newspapers.
    # The most significant element in their content is the ads.
    # It does not take long for a pile of old newspapers to reach the
ceiling.
    # They are printed on inferior paper, and turn yellow in a week.
    # They are a fire hazard.

Ec

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Cary Bass-4
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Hash: SHA1

Ray Saintonge wrote:
> # It does not take long for a pile of old newspapers to reach the
> ceiling.
You've tested this? :-)

- --
Cary Bass
Volunteer Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Carcharoth
Carcharoth wrote:
> Some stuff in newspapers is really horribly
> unreliable. Books as well. But the best books are nearly always better
> than newspapers. Even if a book is written based in part on newspaper
> reports, it should go beyond that and establish firmer reliability and
> more research into whatever is being written about.
Newspapers (especially local ones) remain most useful and reliable on
things that don't get into books.  They are often information that is
not controversial at all.  Obituaries, for example, may be the only way
to establish that an author has died when we are researching the
copyright status of his works.  Sometimes local circumstances about a
national issue are completely ignored by the wider circulation press.

Newspapers can more easily distort information they receive from press
services. This can be done quite innocently as a style improvement that
changes the meaning of the information.

Ec

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Cary Bass-4
> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
> Hash: SHA1
>
> Ray Saintonge wrote:
>> # It does not take long for a pile of old newspapers to reach the
>> ceiling.
> You've tested this? :-)
>
> - --
> Cary Bass
> Volunteer Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation

I have, and God bless people that save old newspapers, but you better
have a pretty big building if you're going to go into that business.

Fred


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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen
Gwern Branwen wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 6:40 AM, Andrew Gray wrote:
>> More broadly, there's a good side and a bad side to this. The bad
>> side, yes, a lot of our existing references will break, and it'll be a
>> bit harder to write good, robustly cited, articles in the future. On
>> the plus side, it might help wean us off an over-reliance on news
>> stories and (often slapdash) journalism as our preferred sources, and
>> that's got to be beneficial.
> What worries me on the topic is that as newspapers shift to online
> content - content which is *not* mirrored in the dead-tree version
> (this is increasingly common eg. I read that the Wall Street Journal
> does this now) - their pages become less and less reliably accessible.
> For example, it wasn't that long ago that the NYT merged with another
> paper and broke all the links, and those missing articles (referenced
> by Wikipedia articles) couldn't be refound in the NYT website. If the
> original paper's domain blocked WebCitation and Internet Archive with
> robots.txt (as is very likely), then any of those articles which were
> online only are basically *gone*.
>
> The set of newspapers that block caching/archiving of their webpages
> is large; as is the set that is moving online; we can also expect the
> set of newspapers that will fail or merge in coming years to be large
> as well. The union of these 3 sets is, I think, nonzero.
> And that is a problem our conventional solutions (treat it as a
> print-ref; use an archived copy) don't address. I don't really have a
> solution, but I can predict that editors will continue to use them at
> their convenience, and that our articles will be damaged by those
> references' link-rot.
>
> (A pity that the big archivers are so damn ethical!)

I don't think that Murdoch's proposal is viable in the long run.  Who
will be wanting to pay for so much ephemeral material.  What would it
say of readers who bind themselves to one site because that is all they
can afford only one subscription?  How are they to know that they are
not being told about alternative perspectives on the same story?  I
think that the entire news reporting industry is in deep trouble, and
that citizen journalism and crowdsourcing have not yet built up the
strength and credibility to pick up the slack.

Ec

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Re: Online Newspapers Considering Subscription Model

Bod Notbod
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 7:44 PM, Ray Saintonge<[hidden email]> wrote:

> I don't think that Murdoch's proposal is viable in the long run.  Who
> will be wanting to pay for so much ephemeral material.  What would it
> say of readers who bind themselves to one site because that is all they
> can afford only one subscription?

Although, bearing in mind this is News International, Murdoch owns
enough papers that 'one' subscription may allow access to many sites,
if he so chose.

Latest news I've heard is that Murdoch might test this out, to begin
with, on the UK's Sunday Times.

Savvy media types have made the point that the payment system will
have to be real slick to succeed. It will have to be a one click
payment after registration. Sounds feasible to me. I think I'd be OK
lobbing in 10p (16c) for certain things. Another commentator said it
was weird of Murdoch to announce his strategic intentions ahead of
actually doing them. They have suggested this is because he wouldn't
want to go alone on this, so is trying to get the debate going and
hopes that other news organisations follow.

It's an issue. The UK's oldest Sunday newspaper, The Observer, has
been described as on the verge of collapse these last few days.

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