Just hit a paywall notice on the LA times which was my go to after the NYT and Washington Post went paywall. Sure you can use google links to bypass the paywalls for individual stories, but it’s a PITA to do this just to peek at every story that looks interesting. It appears as though this is going to be the thing going forward for major US newspapers.
Most people can’t afford to sign up with all the sites. Is the era of free net news content coming to a close?
For the sake of news reporting, I kind of hope it is.
I like free stories as much as the next guy, but as more and more newspapers go down in the sea of red ink, something’s got to give. The income from physical papers can’t support internet content anymore, so if a news organization is going to survive, it has to get income from its online readers.
Who knows? Maybe if this becomes the norm, investigative reporting won’t end up being completely starved out in favor of the free video crap that random people capture on their cellphones.
Well, if there was some centralized place where I could fling ten or twenty bucks a month for my internet news, I’d probably be OK with this. Although I’d insist on it being ad-free with no bullshit auto-play video. (Is there an iTunes for news?) But having to pay a dozen or so outlets seems like too much of a hassle.
And I’d probably pay a hundred or so a year to Youtube if I could have 100% ad-free, pop-up free videos.
aceplace57: I suspect that if the people insisting on a-la-carte cable pricing (unbundling) succeed, the TV News networks will start charging for their online content.
Y’know, 20 years ago, we got our news from:
a) Over-the-air radio/TV news, advertiser-paid with no way to avoid the ads; in the case of TV only 4 times a day
b) Cable news networks, still advertiser-subsidized PLUS now you were paying cable fees
b) One or two newspapers for daily news and a handful of magazines for in-depth or specialized coverage, for which we’d pay individually, or of which the public library would have a finite number of copies to read for free; which would themselves contain advertising in their pages.
So we *were * paying for a limited number of different news outlets, almost universally advertising-subsidized, and those we did not pay for directly would be paid either by advertisers or through a form of socialized pricing (public library, PBS/NPR).
Who’s supposed to pay the producers, reporters, writers if there are no advertisers and we are unwilling to pay more than chickenfeed for the entirety of available content?
The three newspapers mentioned in the OP are, arguably, some of the best in the country, if not the world. They’re the sort of papers that do in-depth investigative reporting, put foreign correspondents throughout the world and hire really good, influential columnists. That kind of journalism costs a lot of money and someone has to pay for it. For the record, I pay $15 every four weeks for unlimited access to the New York Times on my computer and smartphone. It’s a lot but I like to think it’s worth it.
That said, I believe The Guardian has greatly expanded its coverage in the US and doesn’t have a paywall. It’s also a world-class newspaper.
I can’t agree with the OP about it being a PITA to find news stories through Google. You can usually narrow results down to a specific publication by using the site qualifier, e.g. “site:latimes.com”. (This is something I would have learned to do a lot sooner if I spent more time in ATMB).
I agree that the publishers need to be able to earn money somehow, but at the same time I wouldn’t like to see them move all access to news behind the paywall. Metered access for non-subscribers seems like a reasonable compromise in my non-expert opinion, although I don’t know how it’s working out for them.
I often use the Spiegel Online website and Android app, both of which are free. However, the free content is not as extensive or in-depth as the lead print articles are, unless the magazine has changed radically since the last time I saw a print copy.
I’ve been kind of impressed how well the porous pay-wall model has worked. It seems a pretty good compromise between Newspapers desire for people to have access and be able to link to stories on the web and journalists desire to make money to feed themselves.
Granted, its probably only really viable for big, national papers. But still, at least there it seems like it works well without being to much of a PITA.