Paying the Cost of Journalism

December 23, 2016 4:40pm
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When I first moved to Florida, I was a proud subscriber to our daily local newspaper – the now defunct Tampa Tribune.

I had actually started getting the Sundays mailed to me about a year prior so that I could look through the classifieds for jobs and places to live, and I ended up extending it to a full subscription when I got here admittedly because it felt like the grown-up thing to do, plus it cemented the idea that my new city warranted a seven day newspaper whereas the papers back home in Northern Michigan were only published something like twice a week! The paper would get delivered to the front door of my apartment every morning in time for me to take it to work with me, and it would end up getting passed around my team throughout the day until I had a chance to read it myself during lunch.

That went on for several years until eventually I stopped carrying it to work with me and the growing pile of unread papers on my floor became more of a guilt-trip than an honest source for news. By then it was probably 2007 / 2008 and I was getting the vast majority of my news, including stories from the paper that got delivered to me by hand, off the Internet before I ever got around to even unbagging the day’s newspaper until finally I just bit the bullet and canceled the thing altogether.

I remember literally sitting on the floor with several dozen newspapers, flipping through them methodically to skim for anything I may have missed just because I felt guilty throwing the papers out without ever even opening them!

So fast-forward to today, like many of my like-minded colleagues in the wake of the election season and particularly this fake news hysteria, I just recently subscribed to a couple of newspapers … electronically, that is. For me, I chose The New York Times because they seem to hit on most of the biggest national and world stories and the Orlando Sentinel because I enjoy their tourism and theme park coverage.

The total cost once their promotional periods are over is less than $4 a week.

Mind you, I’m a bit torn about paying for online content across the board just because I don’t think I want to see the Internet turn into a place where micro-payments are the cost of access, although between my own dwindling ad revenues and the awful user experiences that more and more sites are willing to subject readers to in exchange for ad dollars once again, my opinion on the topic certainly isn’t set in stone…

But I think when it comes to real journalism – not opinions that are a dime a dozen, but true, ethical reporting – as the information age continues to grow in ways that we’re not entirely sure how to contain, it’s important that we put our support behind those news sources which we rely on so that money isn’t a reason for them to fall off the edge of the earth like countless newspapers have done in the last decade. Sure, it’s becoming harder and harder to know what represents honest reporting these days and I’ll sincerely admit that my own selections aren’t 100% unbiased, but I think we need to start somewhere and for the stories that I’ve found myself wanting to read more and more lately, these are two of the papers that consistently deliver.

Plus I’m getting sick of seeing that “You’ve exceeded your 10 free articles for the month!” pop-up from the Times and they’re like every third story in my Facebook feed, so I’m willing to pay a couple of bucks a month just to get rid of that alone! 😛

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