No, I Won’t Pay to Read Your Newspaper Online June 25, 2009

Written by: Christy Wise
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

murdoch

With print media on the verge of extinction, publishers are starting to get desperate. Recently the Wall Street Journal announced they would be moving forward with charging their readers to view news content, with other media sure to follow suit. I think that web users have made it pretty clear since the dawn of the internet that they don’t want to pay for anything – not music, not games, not sports, and definitely not news. Slate Magazine tried moving their online magazine to a paid subscription model. The result?Less than 5% of readers were willing to contribute – even to the most modest of fees. Publishers, much like the music industry need to find new ways to monetize their content without having to charge us for that actual content (you are selling ads aren’t you? And aren’t internet production costs cheaper than print?). Even if every newspaper in the world decided to start charging for their service and somehow managed to prevent anyone from finding away around it, it’s not as if I will suddenly be in the dark and unaware of what is going on around me. I wouldn’t wake up one morning not knowing what the date is, who our President is, or how the police chase ended up last night. The beauty of “news” is that it’s spread primarily through word-of-mouth. I don’t need the New York Times to tell me about what’s happening in Korea because I can simply get that information through online conversations – or even (gasp!) off-line conversations with friends or family (I do use the telephone). So yes, I understand, newspapers and magazines have a business to run, and how dare we internet users think for a second that we can just learn all about Brad and Angie’s latest adoption, or how the weather is going to look this weekend, without having to pay for it. Mainstream media needs to realize that it’s not a matter of whether or not internet users have to pay for online content – it’s entirely about not needing to pay for it. Don’t think of us as freeloaders who are picking the virtual pockets of Rupert Murdoch, think of us as comfortable with how things have been all this time. Maybe if you’d charged us all along no one would bat an eye – but it’s too late now. And last time I checked – the internet isn’t free. I pay nearly $40 a month to have it in my home (and I’m sure that price will continue to rise) – paying more to read about our struggling economy is ridiculous (not to mention ironic). To the publishing industry and mainstream media – don’t waste resources, time, and money you don’t have trying to wage this war, you will eventually lose. Start thinking about alternatives before it’s too late.