current affairs

Don’t expect journalists to be working for free

There is no such thing as a free meal. This is a saying we all know and trust, after all what was the last thing you got for free with no strings attached?

There is no such thing as a free meal. This is a saying we all know and trust, after all what was the last thing you got for free with no strings attached?

Yet this is exactly what we’ve been getting from all online newspapers when they offer their journalism for free. 

Here’s the deal: newspapers are dying. Maybe not in our lifetime but at some point they will cease to exist. Why does this matter now? Because we are already feeling this strain on Britain’s newspapers as more and more people look to online sites or apps for the latest news. And who can blame us? How long do newspapers stay current after they have been printed? We’re lucky if it will last a day. Instead you can get the current news direct to your smartphone, tablet, smart TV, etc., where it will be constantly updated. Not to mention how much paper and therefore trees we would be saving by going electronic.

With this on-going debate the main worry is newspaper journalism will come to an end. But this does not mean the end of news journalism. We simply need to shift to a different platform to survive and in this case our saviour would be online sites and apps.

But how are journalists expected to earn a living if all these sites are free? For the last few years advertising has been a short term solution but a couple of ads cannot save an entire newspaper and the face of news journalism.

All of this only comes as a shock as we’ve been spoilt with so much free online news up until now. It was only a matter of time until UK newspapers started using paywalls and offering subscriptions to readers.

The Sun plans to charge readers if they wish to view their site in the second half of 2013 and they’re not the only ones. The Daily Telegraph will also put a paywall in place becoming the first British general interest newspaper to do so. Viewers will be allowed to see 20 articles a month for free but then will have to pay a subscription fee. Before you worry prices will get out of hand The Daily Telegraph will charge £1.99 a month (or £20 a year) for full access to the site. There will also an extra digital pack which will include The Sunday Telegraph as well as loyalty club membership for £9.99 a month (£99 a year). These packages will have a free one month trail before choosing to full for a full subscription or not.  

This system is already in place for most American and Canadian newspapers and is only used in Britain by The Financial Times. The Times and Sunday Times are protected by a full paywall which completely locks any non-subscribers out of the site. They craftily allow a small glimpse of each article to hook readers and then charge for the full text.

But the main question is whether people would actually pay for it?

I say the time for a free bite of news has past, it was nice while it lasted but admit it, having free access to an online news site is like reading a whole newspaper in the shop, never buying it, and putting it back on the shelf. You wouldn’t work for free so why expect our journalists to?

What do you think? Would you pay for news online? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.