Change Agents

ASPEN, July 25, 2010 (AFP) – Top technology and media executives wrapped up a three-day conference here during which they grappled with — and left unresolved — the question of whether readers will pay for news online. Firmly in the paid camp in the “paid vs. free” debate was News Corp.’s head of digital operations Jon Miller who said charging online readers is a notion that has been “accepted at a variety of levels.”

“It’s more about how it gets done,” Miller told participants in the Fortune Brainstorm Tech event which ended on Saturday in this Colorado ski resort.

With newspapers and magazines facing competition from free content on the Web and declining circulation and print advertising revenue, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has been leading the charge to get newspaper readers to pay online.

The Wall Street Journal, a News Corp. title, is currently the only major US newspaper to charge readers for full access to its website and one of the few to buck the trend of eroding circulation.

Another News Corp. paper, Britain’s The Times, erected a pay wall around its website at the beginning of July and Murdoch has said he will eventually do the same at all of the newspapers in his vast stable.

Miller