Stephen Morse doesn’t Matter. In fact, he calls the journalism startup — whose Kickstarter campaign broke past the $100,000 level in just nine days — “Snake Oil Salesmen 2.0″ and “a scam.” And after getting a smart explanation of exactly how Matter’s business model is, he doubled down on his position and said he would keep it even if they manage to raise $500,000. So I invited him up to Reuters for a little debate.
We disagreed about a few different things. The first is Morse’s idea that there’s so much great content out there for less than 99 cents that no one’s going to pay that whopping sum to read Matter’s stories. I, obviously, disagree. I think that the success of the Kickstarter campaign is proof that there’s huge untapped demand for this kind of material — demand which is not being met by the competitors Morse cites, like Scientific American or Popular Mechanics. I think that the success of books for the Kindle — for that matter, the success of decades of magazines and centuries of paper books — demonstrates that there’s real demand for quality content, even from people who don’t necessarily have the time to read it all. I think that mobile devices like phones and tablets have revolutionized where and how we consume a huge range of written content. And, most importantly, I think that trailblazers like the iTunes Store and the New York Times are changing the willingness of millions of people to pay for digital material.
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