If there is one beneficiary emerging from the crisis of conscience engulfing Facebook right now, it's the subscription-based business model. 

For the first two decades after the Netscape browser began ushering consumers onto the Internet, information wanted to be free. Not just free as in unfettered and decentralized, but free as in at no cost. Publishers who charged subscriptions were sidelined as readers became accustomed to getting content at the alluring price of zero cents.

In the past few years, top media brands as well as smaller publishers with specialized content have, after painful rounds of trial and error, learned to offer subscription-based models that are starting to resonate with readers. The risk of that approach was that subscriptions quickly become a zero-sum proposition as consumers are only willing to spend so much of their budgets on content...