Readers need to know that it takes a lot of money and effort to produce good reporting (not to mention to have that reporting well-written and edited). The free model just won’t support the level of professional reporting we have even now, after all the industry’s layoffs.

But most critically, Langeveld, who says in his headline “Sorry, but the math just doesn’t work” for charging online doesn’t acknowledge the more-obvious point: neither does not charging.

What do papers have to lose?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.