The current conventional wisdom is that consumers will sooner or later have to start paying for online content. That may or may not be true.
My own view is that the core problem is not that people won't pay. They will pay. But when you add up all the digital pennies you end up with a top line that is a fraction of what today's top line subscription revenues look like. This is only due in part to the fact that we've trained consumers to expect stuff for free. The other more important fact is that so many people are willing to create and distribute quality content (and services) for free. Think of how much excellent news analysis is being created on top-quality blogs, for example. yes the authors would like to get some form of payment for the content but for them to do so would necessarily cut into their traffic and harm them on the advertising side. And we've reached the point where top bloggers can make a six-figure income from advertising alone.
This may be bad news for newspapers and for journalism as a profession (because many fewer of them will be able to make a living), but I'm not yet convinced it's bad news for body politic.