Microsoft has launched a search engine, called Bing, that it hopes will attract a large portion of the 63 percent of Web searchers who now use Google, the world’s largest search engine. If Bing can deliver more relevant results than Google or Yahoo, the other major search engine, then people will eventually switch over, Microsoft reasons. Bing has received positive reviews for its search capabilities and its design and helpful features. But critics say that doesn’t matter; Google’s information is already more than adequate for most people, who are likely to have a difficult time telling the difference between a great search engine and a better one.
Do you think Bing has a shot at stealing many users from Google? Would you switch?
Responses to April’s Question
What’s the News Worth to You?
Several newspapers in the United States, such as Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, have shut down, and others like the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times are struggling because of declining readership—in part, some say, because their content is available online for free. A decrease in advertising is also contributing to the downturn. It might be possible to save newspapers by charging for reading articles online—for example, a nickel per article or a dime for that day’s full edition. In fact, a group of former news staffers at the Rocky Mountain News is putting together a Web newspaper to which they hope readers will subscribe for US $4.99 a month. And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has also become a Web-only publication.
Would you be willing to pay to read online articles from your favorite newspaper? How much would you pay?
My understanding is that online versions of most of today’s papers do not yet have all the content that appears in the paper editions. I’m not sure they’ll ever catch up with the amount of information published in papers like, say, the Chicago Tribune. Nor will publishers be likely to pull in enough advertising revenue in the future.
The Rocky Mountain News was a superb paper, and I truly hope the new online substitute makes it. I think it makes sense for the major papers to charge a fee for access to their online editions. This makes more sense than paying per article or even per day. A fee of perhaps $40 to $60 a year would be fair.
Williams Bay, Wis.
I personally do not—and will not—pay one cent for the garbage that most so-called newspapers publish online or print. Newspapers are folding because all they print are editorials, not news. To get my world news, I listen to the BBC on the radio. There is really no way to get local news in the Detroit area where I live. With the demise of local papers we might see a renaissance of real newspapers that finally understand that readers are looking for news. I can form my own opinions if I can get the facts.
Joseph D. Greiner
Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
Ready and Willing
My main news source these days is The Economist—which calls itself a newspaper, although by most definitions it’s a magazine. I read it online for free, but a yearly print subscription costs around $90. If it did charge for its online content, I would fork over a sizable fraction of the print price—maybe $30 or $40.
The Fall of Objectivity
Newspapers aren’t going under because they’re available online for free. They’re going under because the American people have lost faith in their reporting. The print stories are merely opinion, not fact. That is why the United States is moving dangerously close to losing the republic upon which it was founded to socialism.
A Whole New Approach
I would not pay to get news that is already available on cable TV and the Internet. But I would pay to support in-depth investigations and reporting on local and national issues. I think we need a new type of online newspaper—not just online versions of our current ones.
East Troy, Wis.
Small Price to Pay
To survive, newspapers should charge a monthly fee for access to their Web sites, which would include all the latest news plus the newspaper’s archives. Additional fees could be added for downloading printed copies. I would be willing to pay $5 a month for access and the ability to read everything.
Robert B. Harvey