Thursday, March 17, 2011

I will gladly pay for the New York Times

I hardly ever post twice in one day, but I felt that the announcement by the New York Times that they would be charging for subscriptions and the ensuing hoopla was worth commenting on.

In brief, I will gladly pay for the New York Times. I have been looking for a way to pay for the great articles that I have been getting from them for quite some time now. But my only option before this was to pay for a physical paper, which I definitely do not want. I want to acknowledge the value that I get from NYT and the customary way to do this in our industrial economy is to pay.

I believe that you get what you pay for. I pay my financial adviser on a fee-for-service model. Most people don't. Instead, they get "free" advice, which they pay for by buying the mutual funds recommended by their advisers. In turn, these funds are not necessarily the best ones, but the ones that give the advisers the best commission. I support a my local NPR affiliate and individual programs, such as This American Life and Story Corps. I like these shows and want them to continue to produce high quality programming.

Kenneth Whyte, editor-in-chief at MacLean's (Canada's equivalent of Time magazine), gave the 2009 Dalton Camp Lecture, which was later broadcast and podcast on CBC Radio. Whyte talked about the collapse of newspapers, magazines, and journalism as we know it, and suggested that what was coming would be better. He compared our current funding model (where advertisers carry the burden of the cost of producing a newspaper), to the funding model used during the heyday of newspapers, that is, when publisher William Randolph Hearst was alive and active. In those days, readers were the primary source of funding for newspapers. There was far more competition and far more local coverage. Whyte argued that the reader-pay model was superior, because they, the public, got to drive the news.

To be sure, we're can't go back and I'm not suggesting that we should. Competition during the Hearst era was local to New York City. In our current era, news is global, competition is in cyberspace, and "local" isn't defined by geography, but by affiliations. But if we readers pay, we will get the news that matters to us.

In summary, I'm going to start paying, so I can have more of what I want in the news.

1 comment:

Benevolentprof said...

FYI, I signed up for my digital subscription today.