Save the newspapers, please!

The Daily Gazette, where I have my awesome internship, is changing its website starting Monday.

According to my editors, “Beginning Aug. 3, we’re changing how our Web site functions, offering unlimited access to subscribers but restricting access to those who aren’t. The change will give subscribers unlimited Web access to our new and expanded Web content, as well as to our online electronic replica of the day’s paper. Together, the two versions provide a comprehensive view of the news we cover.

Customers, who now pay $4 a week for home delivery, will continue to pay $4 a week via a special combination package: $3.99 for the print subscription and a penny more for our online subscription. Online-only subscriptions will also be available, at $2.95 a week.”

The Gazette is not the first newspaper to start charging for access to its website and it certainly won’t be the last. What irks me about this whole situation is the negativity and the angry comments that people have been leaving on the post.

Newspapers are (sadly) a dying breed my friends. How long did you expect news to remain free on the Internet? Journalists have a job just like everyone else, and they need to be paid. With less and less people buying daily newspapers and resorting to the Internet it’s only natural to start charging so that professional writers can continue to get paid.

Would you expect other services to be performed for free? You pay taxes which goes to staffing your local police department and government. Think of paying for news online, just like you would pay for a news paper, a “media tax.”

You wouldn’t even have news if journalists weren’t out there getting the story for you and delivering it to your doorstep or your computer every morning. Just like your neighborhood wouldn’t be safe if there weren’t police or other public officials.

So cough up the bucks for your online luxury.

People who say they’re “angry” or “offended” by newspapers charging for use of their website make me think that they’re really self-centered and ignorant. Yes the economy is probably hitting you hard, but it’s hitting journalists hard, too. They don’t make that much. You pay for phone service, Internet service and cable to stay connected to the outside world, how is paying for your news any different?

People expect to pay when they walk into a store and buy a newspaper why don’t they expect to pay for the same thing online?

The Internet has spoiled people, but it needs to stop. Newspapers are dying and I honestly think that since print readership is down, as are ad revenues that charging for online access is the only way to save the industry.

People are all in an uproar about the economy and creating new jobs…how about PRESERVING the jobs that are already filled? Plus, you wouldn’t even be in the know about the stimulus package if it weren’t for journalists.

I think that newspapers, particularly the ones in decline, need to take the following actions:
1. Expand their coverage areas to increase readership as much as possible.
2. Make sure their print editions are delivered by 7 a.m.–before people go to work. The biggest complaint I hear from people who don’t subscribe is that the paper simply doesn’t get to their home early enough.
3. Charge a nominal fee for online use–but only to those who don’t subscribe to the print edition. Print subscribers should get Internet access for free since they are going to get the whole paper anyway.

Newspapers CAN survive, and WILL survive if people could just understand that nothing can be free in this economy.

Don’t want to pay for online access? Then go buy a $0.75 paper.

Either way, save a newspaper, save a job and stay informed.

The way I see it it’s win-win-win.


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