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Newspaper Paywalls Rising

November 17, 2012

Paywalls are rising!  Newspaper web sites are limiting access to paid subscribers only, although most of them do permit a small number of free views.  What am I going to do now?

I don’t subscribe to any newspaper.  I used to get a local weekly paper included with a bundle of flyers, but the flyer company stopped delivering them to my house over a year ago.  I do get news on CBC radio.  I do read a great deal of news on the web.  I read news through aggregators like Google News as well as through broadcaster and newspaper web sites.  Yes, I’m one of the news freeloaders.  As more and more paywalls rise and I stop viewing the closed sites, I’ll be funnelled into fewer remaining open sites.  Eventually, I’ll have to pay to get what I want.

Why are they doing this?  It’s their business model.  They need to make a profit.  Certainly they need to pay their staff, even if they no longer print newspapers.  Their only source of income is payments for advertizing and subscriptions.  In the last few years, the business has changed.  People are no longer buying newspapers.  People are no longer subscribing.  Free access to newspaper web sites no longer entices people to buy the paper.  Their only option is to replace subscriptions to the paper with subscriptions to their web site.  They offer one news site for all purposes, including local news and events, with national and world news from wire services.

What do other people seem to want now?  In a word, apps!  They install these on phones and tablet computers, one for each news source.  They also seem willing to subscribe to get their news, perhaps in conjunction with a printed version of the same paper.

What I want is something different, not the traditional newspaper model at all.  I do want local reporting.  I do want journalism.  In fact, I want investigative journalism with information from a respected source.  I also want a wide choice of sites, so that I can go to where the news is being made.  I don’t want a single portal that offers me everything or even several of these.  I also want a choice in type of material.  Just now I want events, politics, science, technology, and business.  I don’t want entertainment, sports, or advertizing.  Other people will have different choices, of course.

Will any of this be possible?  I am willing to pay a reasonable amount for the news that I want.  I recognize that good journalism costs money, and that consumers of news have to pay for it one way or another.  I don’t like advertizing mixed with my news, but I will certainly visit retailer’s web sites when I’m looking for a product.  So far, I doubt that I’ll get what I want.

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