• By The Financial District

Columnist Scores Expensive Paywalls For Digital Passes

The road to free information and opinions seems to run into a lot of paywalls. Want to finish reading an article? You can, but only if you subscribe for just $1 for 3 months, which becomes $11.99 a month thereafter, and into perpetuity, until your credit card expires, Scott Simon wrote for National Public Radio (NPR).


Photo Insert: While disinformation is free, the cost of inducing people to subscribe is to make news, information, and a range of opinions available to only those who have the means to afford and receive them online.



“I have a strong, even personal interest in paying journalists fairly. But the cost most people have to pay these days if they want to try to stay informed and enrich their minds with a range of opinions is pretty steep,” he added.


It's become harder to read more than an article or two in most publications, which may no longer be the word. News sites, from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Des Moines Register, insist you subscribe. So do Ebony, The New Yorker, The Economist, Rolling Stone, and opinion journals, including The Nation and National Review, and sports-reporting sites.



And of course, there are proliferating newsletters and extra-access-plus plans, as news broadcasters begin their own subscription services. They don't crave an audience, so much as what they call a "customer base."


But the cost of inducing people to subscribe is to make news, information, and a range of opinions available to only those who have the means to afford and receive them online. This skews the audience toward what Nikki Usher, a University of Illinois College of Media associate professor, calls the "rich, white, and blue," as in left-leaning.


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The political and social divides, which so many decry, may begin between those who can and those who can't afford access to a wide range of fact-checked, accurate information. Disinformation, of course, is utterly free.


Newspapers and magazines often got ink on your fingers. But they were cheap. Anyone with pocket change, rich, poor, students, or job-seekers, could buy a copy of a magazine with Princess Diana or Oprah Winfrey on the cover.


Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

The internet has made news and views of all kinds, from all over the world, available on screens we can keep in our pockets. But so many paywalls have pulled costly shades over those screens.



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