This is in response to yet another attempt at artificially limiting distribution of information online to protect expired business models, the AP's NewsRight.
I originally wrote it as a rather large rant on Google+, but I guess it's too long for that medium, and probably worth blogging.
Aggregators provide a hugely important service both to me and to you. In this day, information is global.
It used to be the case that I'd be more likely to get my information from a local outlet; a paper published in the town or city where I live, or maybe a local TV station. These would often republish stories written somewhere else, and there was a very well thought-out system for them to pay for this.
Now I have access to information from the whole world. But that means, there's way too much of it out there. Attention and “eyeballs” have become a more scarce and precious resource than content. Why would I read your article, rather than someone else's, or even spend my time playing games or writing fiction? I have precious little time, and it's mathematically impossible to read everything written every day that could be interesting for me.
Then there's management/economy theory. The “new wave” of theory today is “consumer delight”. It used to be the case that most business defined their goals as “providing what their customer needs”. Then at some point in the 20th century the thinking changed to “making money”. Then in the 70s it changed to “creating shareholder value”. Some very smart people today are saying those goals are destructive, to the economy in general, to the customer, and to your own ability to compete. The idea is that the ultimate goal of a business is to not only provide what the consumer needs, but to do it with as much excellence as you can afford; the money you make is a means, a part of the process, necessary to sustain the business and the people, and not the ultimate goal.
From that angle, your ultimate goal is to write the best story, and your ultimate metrics of success are second that it gets read as widely as possible, and first and foremost, that the people who read it get the most value out of it.
Therefore the concern at the center of your business is how stories get produced; that is where good practises need to be preserved and new things need to be tried and optimisations made. The concern of how to get compensated is necessary but secondary, and that means it should be an option at any time to rethink the business model, turn it upside down even, if that's the best for the primary goal.
Back to aggregators then: how am I supposed to know about your publication? If once every two or three months (and that's being generous) you publish an article that's the absolute best about a topic I'm interested in, am I supposed to visit your website every day just because that chance exists? That would mean visiting dozens of websites every day to get my news. I'm more likely to go with a smaller number of sites that have inferior articles but a better average.
Aggregators are there to save both of us: if I can find a good aggregator that picks those good articles from you, that's great, because it's probably the only way that article will make its way to me; you get read, and I get better information.
Now, that is currently a problem, because your model for compensation depends on people visiting yoru site. Can you see my point of view, that in light of all this, the thing that needs to be fixed is your compensation model? That the compensation model is the one weak link here, the one thing that is clearly wrong?
It's like the debate about how much profit is lost because people download music and movies. The reality is almost none, because those people are in 4 groups: (a) being most of them, wouldn't have bought the content anyway; (b) already bought it and want it in a different format; (c) download, taste, and then go ahead and buy; and (d) the very few that would have bought it if they couldn't download. So in the majority, it's not a case of buying or downloading, but rather downloading or ignoring.
In the case of news it's not a choice of aggregators or going to the source, it's aggregators or not hearing about the article at all. So from the point of view of the aggregators, you should be paying them for getting your article to the right eyeballs out there. (Which of course is also preposterous, because before you can pay the aggregators for that service, you need to make money somehow, and it's in their best interest to help you figure out how, and help you implement whatever solution turns out to be practical.)