I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and see a great article for something that you’re super into from the New York Times. You click it only to hit a paywall saying that you’ve read your ten free stories of the month. If you want to read the story, you have to pay for a subscription.
You decide to read the comments on the newsfeed post to get some semblance about what the story might be about and instead you find a comment from Linda or Mark Sample-Last-Name complaining about the paywall. They are demanding to know why they can’t read the story. According to them, this is just more proof that the mainstream media only cares about profits and not about the actual news.
Now I want you to imagine that you’re a photographer or reporter at mid-sized paper in a major city. Or maybe I should say that you were a reporter, you were just laid off. Your editor says that they are very sorry but because of declining profits they are being forced to lay people off.
I don’t want to bore you with some kind of sob story. I know this is the internet and most people don’t care about the problems affecting others. But I do want to talk with you about why you should be buying a subscription to a newspaper.
I want to share a fact with you, ad revenue is down… a lot. In an age where anyone with a computer can log into Facebook and advertise their business, it’s become harder and harder for news organizations to sell advertisements. Every year, traditional newspapers across the country close their doors or lay off writers because they can’t survive. Hell, if it wasn’t for the student fees we receive from the student body, the Daily Campus would cease to exist.
Paying for a subscription allows news organizations to stay afloat, pay the staff and more importantly create good, honest content. None of that #Fakenews stuff.
There are, of course, organizations like ProPublica and BuzzFeed News creating content that is free for all readers but when thinking about those groups you need to think about size. Organizations like the NYT and WSJ are internationally known for their news coverage. The variety of news that they cover is staggering not to mention the number of papers they produce across the country. Running an operation like this takes a team of hundreds of staff, reporters and multimedia journalists. And all of those people would like to bring some money home at the end of the day.
To a certain extent Linda or Mark Sample-Last-Name are correct. A driving force behind newspaper subscriptions is profits. But profits and revenue in general are a basic part of any business. The news is not something that really exists because people will read it. It is a product, created because there was a need for unbiased coverage about what is going on in the world. Everything in the world costs money. Without the ability to create a revenue stream, media organizations would be unable to send anyone, anywhere. I’m sure you don’t expect to work for free and neither do reporters.
This past year we’ve see what happens when people stop being selective about where they get their news. Numerous fake news organizations on the left and right were created during the 2016 presidential race and their stories widely shared across social media specifically Facebook. Not only was their reporting wrong, in most cases, it was widely shared. In fact, it got to the point that mainstream politicians believed it.
It an unsure time like now, buying some kind of news subscription is more important than ever. Actual #FakeNews was able to grow and gain popularity because there was an opening where people didn’t want to pay for a product that is more important than most people think. Fake news helped to further divide an already divided country.
Contrary to popular belief, the mainstream media is not the enemy. They became “mainstream” because they created an honest, reliable product. It’s our job as consumers to make sure the product we are demanding is unbiased. So, if you want to cut off the supply of #FakeNews, then destroy the demand for it.