Someone posted a link to a newspaper story in a high school sports group I follow in Facebook with a commentary about the “sad state of newspapers now” and how you would have to pay to read the article.
I started a comment three different times in response to this remark, only to delete my words each time. You’ll find that I rarely share my opinion on social media because I don’t like to waste my time arguing.
But I kept coming back to that post. And I decided that it wasn’t something I could just continue to scroll past anymore.
You see, when someone shares a newspaper story on social media, to me, that means that he or she values the content in that article enough to want others to read the same article. That person thinks the information in that article is of such importance, they want others to share in it.
While online readers are used to clicking on newspaper articles for free, the problem comes in that newspapers can’t produce the content for free. They pay staff members to cover events, take photos and write stories.
As the internet grew, newspapers found themselves struggling to share their news in a new medium, a medium that readers craved, while still finding a way to make money. In their efforts, many newspapers have offered news on their websites at no charge to consumers.
But newspapers are businesses, and have continued to struggle as advertising has changed over the years. Newspaper publishers start thinking outside the box about ways to create new revenue. Many times that means a paywall for stories on their websites.
Charging for content is not something new for newspapers. Before the internet, if you wanted to read an article from a newspaper, you either had to purchase a subscription or you had to buy a copy. It’s not that different if the story is online.
Except that because it was given away for free, consumers expect it to continue to be free.
But you wouldn’t expect the plumber to come to your house and fix your pipes for free or expect the drive through at McDonald's to provide your meal for free.
Newspapers have been and will continue to be some of the best sources for news, especially local news. There will always be some outlet to cover national events, major league sports, even politics.
But without local newspapers, who will cover the school board meeting so you know what’s happening with remote learning?
Who will cover the high school basketball game where no fans are allowed because of a global pandemic?
Who will keep you informed and in touch with your community?
My challenge to you is this: The next time you see an article from a newspaper that you want to read, click to create an account and pay the nominal subscription fee. You can subscribe to our newspaper for one year for less than what it costs to take your family out to dinner one night.
Local journalism can only survive with community support. So, instead of griping, offer your support for the articles you already want to read. And don’t forget to support those advertisers who also help support local news.
The tagline of The Washington Post is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” You have a chance to be the light and continue to support journalism and newspapers. If you don’t, who will?