We Should Pay for Online News

We should pay for online newsI know this subject isn’t going to be popular with some people but I’m convinced that with the number of small laptops, smart phones and tablets, the days of carrying a newspaper neatly tucked under our arms are nearly over.  I was having coffee with a friend the other day – a much much younger friend, I might add.

During our conversation I mentioned that I’d seen something in our local paper, the Sunshine Coast Daily that day and began talking about the article.

“You still read paper newspapers?” she asked.

“Don’t you?” I replied.

She shook her head and said, “It’s old news by the time it gets to me.”

Ever since CNN began 24/7 news coverage, the writing has been on the wall about print newspapers.  Is there a newspaper without an online presence?  I doubt it.  Their sales of advertising and newspaper copies reduces every year so how can we expect decent news if we’re not willing to pay for it.

Their writers won’t work for nothing, nor will their photographers, editors, or type setters/designers.  I asked my friend Cindy if she’d be willing to pay to read her local paper online or one of the major big city newspapers and she said absolutely not.  “Let them get their money from advertising,” she told me.

I knew I had a steep hill to climb on this issue but I persevered.

“Do you see many ads on the Internet newspapers you read?” I queried.

She thought for a moment and said she wasn’t even sure that they had any, so I asked her to look.  Sure enough there were ads all over it and she had no clue.

“If you are so numb to those ads, how much money do you suppose they’re making off people just like you?  If nobody is clicking and buying, they aren’t making much money off advertising.  Advertisers pay for results.”

After a bit of brow wrinkling and twitching in her seat she mumbled something about making better ads that she would notice.  I could tell by the volume and tone of her voice that even she didn’t believe what she was saying.

The bottom line is, do we want quality news about what’s going on in our community and around the country and the world?  If we’re satisfied with getting national snippets from inferior journalists, then the price we’re paying for online newspapers is just fine but it’s not good enough for me.  I’m not going to be satisfied with content that’s only gleaned from sources in another location or content provided by sponsors.  Sure, we all know that sponsored content happens even now but do we want nothing but sponsored articles?  Not me.

I want to know there are people with cameras and notebooks actively getting a good story.  For me, news isn’t about branded content.  That’s not news for me – it’s fluff, cash for comment sort of thing.  I acknowledge that newspapers both print and online need to have some of that just to pay the bills these days but come on, surely news is important enough to fork over a few dollars a month to pay for it.  It will make a huge difference to what we’ll be getting.

Sure, we can get our news off Twitter or Facebook but I’d prefer it from a local newspaper I trust.  I want to pick up my tablet and read the news while I’m getting my hair done or waiting to get a tyre changed or waiting for the dentist or doctor.  If we all contribute a little, we’ll get a better product.  Good writers are worth reading.

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