If not collusion, which would, of course, be illegal, such a consortium would be the next best thing, because it would mean that if all of these newspapers would be involved, they could potentially all erect a pay wall together, sort of like the Berlin Wall suddenly being constructed. But I mean that in a positive fashion. It's long seemed to me that the only way that a pay wall would work is if it happened en masse, or something close. Not that anti-trust issues aren't of concern, but since the list of companies that have supposedly talked to News Corp. doesn't include everyone, it certainly would be less of one.
Of course, this whole gambit is highly speculative, but there are many fascinating angles here. Another is whether the liberal New York Times would actually do business with the company that publishes the ultra-conservative -- not to mention down-market -- New York Post, and also -- horrors! -- owns Fox News. Would the Times Co. be able to put aside politics to create a new revenue stream? Only "Pinch" Sulzberger knows for sure.
Previous coverage of the newspaper industry's attempts at a subscription-based online model on BNET Media: