The majority of us will admit to choosing to consume news online, as opposed to purchasing a physical newspaper or magazine. Consequently the decline in print media has made news companies more and more dependent on their online publications, and will inevitably have to charge the public in order to function.
However we are all spoiled by the idea that we can get all the information we want online for free, sharing news through outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately retweeting cannot support a media ecosystem. There needs to be real people sourcing and verifying the information at the start of the chain; and these journalists need to be paid.
With anxious newspapers and magazines pasting their news online for free in fear of becoming ostracised in the race for modernisation, the public have become accustomed to free news. Moreover, publications are partially to blame for their readers dodging subscriptions.
But with the business of newsgathering shrinking, the need for us to contribute has become all the more prevalent.
We need to pay up.
As a result of the financial condition of print media, areas such as local news in particular are suffering.
Because regional publishers show reluctance to invest in writers, reporters, photographers and video journalists, their quality of reporting is lower.
There is a high standard demanded of online publications, content has to be distinctive and engaging. Even as some local papers move online, they have difficulty persuading the people to pay for medial soft news.
Simply because local news is not particularly exciting, does not mean it isn’t necessary and I think it is well worth the cost of a subscription to keep in touch with your local area.
But don’t threat! There have recently been some innovative ideas in regards to payments. One of which has been significantly popular in the Netherlands and attracting attention from such news outlets as The New York Times.
‘Blende’ is an idea created by former technology journalist Alexander Kloepping. It has allowed the Dutch papers to sign up and charge small payments for individual articles.
Of half a million people who signed up to Blende, about 100,000 have actually opted to pay. On ‘Tech Tent’ Alexander explained the freedom and option of refunds puts the subscribers at ease, “It’s about the ease of use. When you know it’s one click away and you can get your money back, then users are really comfortable spending small amounts on articles that are really relevant to them.”
With the use of advertisement failing to offset declining print revenues, ideas such as these are a welcomed solution to the conflicting debate of purchasing online news.
The quality of news is important and shouldn’t be sacrificed for potentially false information circulated through social media outlets. It’s a small price to pay to be correctly informed of world around us.
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