Journalism Online, would-be newspaper savior, gathers steam

Hardly a day goes by without some piece of news about newspapers trying to devise fresh ways to get consumers to pay for all the free content they're currently pushing out over the web. Just last week, for instance, The New York Timesasked subscribers if they'd pay $5 a month for website access, while Rupert Murdoch mused about what role micropayments and e-readers might play in The Wall Street Journal's future.

It's easy to forget just how recent this state of affairs is. "We announced we were doing this in the second week of April," says media entrepreneur Steve Brill -- "this" referring to Journalism Online, the company he founded to help newspapers and other outlets start charging for digital content. "If, on that day, you had called the ten largest newspaper and magazine publishers in the country and said, 'Are you going to charge for any of your online content in the foreseeable future?' you would have gotten a significant amount of 'I don't know," he says.