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Norman Spector

New Brunswick's next senator Add to ...

I understand that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will soon appoint as New Brunswick's tenth Senator none other than Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, who resigned this week from the PMO. The appointment will be announced before the House of Commons re-convenes in September.

Would you have been willing to pay 2-3 cents to for this information? If you're a Conservative worthy from New Brunswick waiting by the phone, or an inveterate Ottawa political junkie, maybe. However, most of those who'll read this post have grown accustomed to free content on the Internet and would likely balk at paying even one sou. On the other hand, quite a few investors might be willing to pay for one of Neil Reynolds's columns or for the latest economic reporting from Ottawa by Heather Scoffield or Kevin Carmichael.

I ask these questions because of growing indications that the era of free Internet content is coming to an end. First came the musings of Rupert Murdoch; today we learned that his Sunday Times of London is planned as the test-bed. Today we also learned that the Financial Times is developing an iTunes model that would allow readers to pay for individual articles.

For beleaguered newspapers, all this could mean increased revenues - which should please journalists worried about the future of the industry. However, the iTunes model could also lead to considerable anxiety, as it would usher in the highest form of accountability - that between consumer and producer.

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, if I'm right that Ms. Stewart-Olsen is on the verge of being summoned to the Senate, you read it here first. If I'm wrong, forget about it. Because that's the way it is.

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