There is a current trend of newspapers cutting costs, laying off, and going out of business. To stem the tied of shutting down some newspapers believe that charging for content online is the solution.
I'm not going to be able to tell you if that is or isn't the solution. However, I do believe it is the test of internet business models that I have been waiting to see. Currently most online revenue is generated by those annoying little ads that appear on each page. However, it is tough to make significant money from nickel ads if you don't have the viewership.
If the newspapers do survive then I can only imagine that other businesses will all follow up with new premium cost structures to access their content. If the newspapers continue to wilt then I expect the internet content to remain free for a number of years to come.
My bet is that very few newspapers will have the ability to make this transition. So much information is available for free from the internet and experienced bloggers with detailed information are going to be hard to compete with these days. Tehcnically, all the RSS, mashups, and service aggregation tools make paying for a general news from one source a tough sell in my mind.