Over at the Guardian and the Observer, the storm in a teacup on the culture blogs this week is whether or not fiction is dead. So what if the American novel is dead (as per US critic Lee Siegel) – most of us had pretty much stopped reading it anyway, given the supply of more interesting stuff to read. Did we actually want any more Mailers? So I guess I am ‘sort of’ with Robert McCrum on this one, although tbh it really is hard to take critics as seriously as they take themselves. Isn’t their primary function to dress up trends the public already takes for granted, wrap them in clever words and make them sound new?
Meanwhile, what critics at The Times make of all this is unclear to me, because since 1 July, The Times and The Sunday Times websites have been ‘available exclusively by subscription‘. This, surely, is either a newspaper dying or regenerating, and paid journos around the world are watching and waiting to find out which. If people are happy to pay to read news online, this will be a story with a happy ending for journos and their jobs. So, will free content get the boot? Or will punters vote to stay outside the pay wall?
Other option: we could see two models developing hand in hand, the peaceful coexistence of paid-for and free online content?