Why You Should Pay for Journalism



Here’s why you should pay-the-wall and support quality journalism…

By Tom Foremski | March 29, 2011, 11:24pm PDT

I don’t understand the current debate over the New York Times paywall. Yes, it has holes in it and yes it is a bit lame but the question it asks is: will you support quality journalism?

That’s an important question.

But it seems that the Geekorati believe that once something is free then it should be free forever, and that if you can get past the New York Times paywall, then you are smart.

I disagree and here’s why:

I remember when the Internet first started, when domain names were free. When the first advertising appeared on the Internet it was greeted with howls of derision. The pundits claimed that Internet users wouldn’t stand for it.

Well, we got used to it and that’s what will happen to quality journalism — we will get used to paying for it, and dare I say it: see it as a civic duty.

Because there has to be a mechanism to pay for the good stuff. Otherwise we will be overrun with mediocre and poor quality content.

That’s a very bad thing.

We need serious journalists to be healthy and able to challenge the claims of companies and governments, and to stand up to those that buy freedom of speech through money, through PR and other means.

We need quality journalism because: media is how a society thinks about things.

Media is vital to our decision process.

Software engineers are familiar with the expression “garbage in, garbage out.”

If we, as a society, have garbage media, then we will make garbage decisions.

We are facing a media landscape that is becoming ever more dominated by garbage media and that means that we, as a society, will be making bad decisions.

And we have some very important decisions to make, about: energy, education, environment, economy, elder care, external conflicts — and that’s just the “e” subjects… There’s more, far more, yet we are witnessing a whole scale dumbing down of our media, and therefore a dumbing down of our ability to make the right choices.

We need good media to make the right decisions and to make a good society for ourselves and our communities.

I hope you can join me, it doesn’t have to be supporting the New York Times, it can be a local newspaper that you admire but it is important to support quality journalism wherever you see it.

“Pay the wall” and help to make an important contribution to the quality of our society and government.

My Take:

So many things online are free and they are of course hurting those who create the written word. Newspapers especially are floundering in this new age of technology. A fraction of the population is purchasing newspapers now than in prior decades. Like I have said before, newspapers need to find new ways of getting by, their business model needs to change. If needs be, they should start charging people online. I know that this would be extremely difficult for us as consumers to get used to, but soon enough we would end up being willing to pay a few dollars to get our written news. In regards to journalists, I think that part of the reason more shoddy writers are hired is because they don’t have anything else to do and the rate of pay is enough for them. Those who are exceptional are looking for better jobs, and if we don’t pay for our news to be provided, sooner or later they will disappear, eventually disposing of the career as a whole and loosing several opportunities for jobs that are so scarce even now.


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