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ancianita

(36,566 posts)
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 11:29 AM Apr 15

Democracy Dies Behind Paywalls The case for making journalism free--at least during the 2024 election -- Richard Stengel

by Richard Stengel, former U.S. undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs

"...According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, more than 75 percent of America’s leading newspapers, magazines, and journals are behind online paywalls. And how do American news consumers react to that? Almost 80 percent of Americans steer around those paywalls and seek out a free option.

Paywalls create a two-tiered system: credible, fact-based information for people who are willing to pay for it, and murkier, less-reliable information for everyone else. Simply put, paywalls get in the way of informing the public, which is the mission of journalism. And they get in the way of the public being informed, which is the foundation of democracy.
It is a terrible time for the press to be failing at reaching people, during an election in which democracy is on the line.
There’s a simple, temporary solution: Publications should suspend their paywalls for all 2024 election coverage and all information that is beneficial to voters. Democracy does not die in darkness—it dies behind paywalls...

I am mindful of the irony of putting this plea behind The Atlantic’s own paywall, but that’s exactly where the argument should be made. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably paid to support journalism that you think matters in the world. Don’t you want it to be available to others, too, especially those who would not otherwise get to see it?...

During the pandemic, some publications found that suspending their paywall had an effect they had not anticipated: It increased subscriptions. The Seattle Times...The Philadelphia Inquirer ...The Tampa Bay Times, The Denver Post, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press, in Minnesota, all experienced similar increases, as did papers operated by the Tribune Publishing Company, including the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant...

Our government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and that consent is arrived at through the free flow of information—reliable, fact-based information. To that end, news organizations should put their election content in front of their paywall. The Constitution protects the press so that the press can protect constitutional democracy. Now the press must fulfill its end of the bargain."

unironic non-paywall https://archive.ph/yu3mr

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2024/04/paywall-problems-media-trust-democracy/678032/

unironic paywall meme



20 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Democracy Dies Behind Paywalls The case for making journalism free--at least during the 2024 election -- Richard Stengel (Original Post) ancianita Apr 15 OP
Who's going to pay reporters' salaries? NT mahatmakanejeeves Apr 15 #1
That's why they charge for multigraincracker Apr 15 #3
Set up a system where non-locals can by a generic subscription to access Wonder Why Apr 15 #16
How do they stay afloat. RandySF Apr 15 #2
First, the article cites that all the major sites listed in the OP ancianita Apr 15 #5
That makes no sense. Progressive dog Apr 15 #4
Not to you. But ancianita Apr 15 #6
"Have you seen the profit margins of corporate media?" mahatmakanejeeves Apr 15 #7
Obviously dropping paywalls will Progressive dog Apr 15 #9
Not obviously. ancianita Apr 15 #10
Exactly Progressive dog Apr 15 #11
Not exactly. ancianita Apr 15 #12
So temporarily money losing companies will lose Progressive dog Apr 15 #14
Your argument is with Stengel, not me. He and I believe that corporate media, if they're honest, ancianita Apr 15 #15
Just fire more reporters or cut their salaries Progressive dog Apr 15 #17
You're swallowing the corporate hype. Corporate media can afford who/what they want and you know it. ancianita Apr 15 #19
No I'm following published facts. Progressive dog Apr 15 #20
Expanding the digital divide. usonian Apr 15 #8
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink. hunter Apr 15 #13
Interesting line of thought. Thanks. ancianita Apr 15 #18

Wonder Why

(3,676 posts)
16. Set up a system where non-locals can by a generic subscription to access
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:49 PM
Apr 15

all the papers with each one getting a cut of the money based on how many of the subscribers use their site. Limited access is okay but asking someone to buy a subscription because they want to read one article from the Birmingham Bugaboo is ridiculous.

I would think that any site that has a paywall should be required to show that on their main page then perhaps someone will write an addon that warns you if you click on the site before taking you there so the site doesn't get the opportunity to drop cookies on you and tracking sites will not know you went there.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
5. First, the article cites that all the major sites listed in the OP
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 11:55 AM
Apr 15

had increased subscriptions during the covid time when they dropped paywalls.

Second, it doesn't logically follow that corporate media become state-run media when they drop paywalls. I don't know how you can conclude that at all.

Third, this writer actually said that, even though America isn't in a pandemic emergency, media should still consider that the nation is in a zone of unprecedented danger to democracy, and so it should temporarily suspend its paywalls. Considering the profit levels of media, esp the Washington Post and NYT, they can well afford a temporary paywall suspension that is in their long term freedom of press interests.

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
4. That makes no sense.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 11:49 AM
Apr 15

Many publications allow limited access for non-subscribers, if that doesn't entice more to subscribe then making everything free certainly won't attract paying customers.
A formula for certain bankruptcy of news publishers is a solution to nothing.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
6. Not to you. But
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 12:13 PM
Apr 15

to the average working class net user and voter, it just might. As I'm sure you read

paywalls are part of the reason Americans’ trust in media is at an all-time low. Less than a third of Americans in a recent Gallup poll say they have “a fair amount” or a “a great deal” of trust that the news is fair and accurate. A large percentage of these Americans see media as being biased. Well, part of the reason they think media are biased is that most fair, accurate, and unbiased news sits behind a wall. The free stuff needn’t be fair or accurate or unbiased. Disinformationists, conspiracy theorists, and Russian and Chinese troll farms don’t employ fact-checkers and libel lawyers and copy editors.


What OP part did you not understand about subscriptions increasing with dropped paywalls by
The Seattle Times...The Philadelphia Inquirer ...The Tampa Bay Times, The Denver Post, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press, in Minnesota, all experienced similar increases, as did papers operated by the Tribune Publishing Company, including the Chicago Tribune and the Hartford Courant...
??



In the interests of media profit there are all kinds of 'soft' limited access deals before paywall deals, sure. But you'd have to foresee that over an election year, those wouldn't last.

Have you seen the profit margins of corporate media? Do you seriously think these media would have to shut down without paywall? Or are you arguing for the sake of argument?

I'd have to ask, in a presidential election year unlike any other -- what's an electorate needing information supposed to do? If you think that at this point in election history, corporate media profit justifies an underinformed electorate, okay then.

mahatmakanejeeves

(58,425 posts)
7. "Have you seen the profit margins of corporate media?"
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 12:30 PM
Apr 15

Last edited Mon Apr 15, 2024, 05:35 PM - Edit history (1)

Have you seen the profit margins of corporate media?

No. Surprise me.

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
9. Obviously dropping paywalls will
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 12:41 PM
Apr 15

not increase revenues. The reason they have paywalls is to increase revenue which they weren't getting enough of without paywalls. Newspapers and magazines are struggling and many have actually already closed their doors.
Just in case you missed the decline of the newspaper business, I found a link for you.
https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/newspapers/

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
10. Not obviously.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 12:53 PM
Apr 15

The demise of the newspaper business was an outcome of larger news corporations buying up ad markets. Digital paywalls weren't even a thing in the 80's and 90's, when most folks were not yet on the nets, obviously because Web 2.0 didn't exist until 1999.

Since you disagree with Stengel and I agree, in an unprecedented presidential election year, I'll duly note your objections.

Thanks for the link. Here's another to consider.

A printed paper's ease of access meant that more individuals could read a single copy, and that everyone who read the paper had the ability to send a letter to the editor without the hassle of registering or paying for the subscription. As such, the use of a paywall closes off the communication in both the personal realm and online. This opinion is not just held by online news readers, but also by opinion writers. Jimmy Wales comments that he "would rather write [an opinion piece] where it is going to be read", declaring that "putting opinion pieces behind paywalls [makes] no sense."

In the U.S., it has been observed that the use of paywalls by high-quality publications has enhanced the reach of non-paywalled online outlets that promote right-wing perspectives, conspiracy theories, and fake news.[58][59][60]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paywall

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
11. Exactly
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:01 PM
Apr 15

Read what you posted and show me where it disputes the obvious fact that paywalls increase income to newspapers and magazines. As far as big buying little, the big corp that owns my local newspaper has lost 90% in value since 2015 and their earnings per share for the last year were ($.20) Look up Gannett Co, symbol GCI. The parentheses indicate a loss.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
12. Not exactly.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:15 PM
Apr 15

What's behind the OP article's advice to media is a temporary suspension that won't hurt their bottom line. You argue that the paywall status quo is fine, and any elimination of paywalls hurts corporate media.
Show me a non-corporate media link (say, Media Matters) that factually shows how eliminating paywalls would hurt corporate media for the next seven months, and you win.

EDIT: Nah. You don't win, cuz Stengel has been in that world a lot longer than you, has a greater command of data and issues.

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
14. So temporarily money losing companies will lose
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:34 PM
Apr 15

more money. Who will pay the salaries of all their workers? Maybe Media Matters can pay for them or buy them out and run them without a paywall.
Gannett has been in that world for a long while, too, but they are still losing money. Most people can do simple math and lots of newspapers and magazines are corporations with required reporting of profit and loss. Those numbers are public but I am supposed to believe a claim from someone named Stengel over masses of publicly available evidence.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
15. Your argument is with Stengel, not me. He and I believe that corporate media, if they're honest,
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:45 PM
Apr 15

can keep their operating costs (mostly personnel) and still be profitable even beyond 2024.

You wanna believe corporate hype about their "losses," that's on you.
Good luck trying to undermine his fair and expert look at corporate paywalls.

I'm done with this line of argument. Have a good day.

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
17. Just fire more reporters or cut their salaries
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:53 PM
Apr 15

and all will be well. The fact that people don't subscribe to newspapers and magazines like they used to has nothing to do with it.
Just cut those expenses some more.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
19. You're swallowing the corporate hype. Corporate media can afford who/what they want and you know it.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 02:14 PM
Apr 15

The ONLY reason they'd cut ANYTHING is to keep their profit levels the same. With or without cuts, they still profit by the billions. That's IT.

And you know all that, too. Nice try using trickle down corporate theory, though.

Progressive dog

(6,947 posts)
20. No I'm following published facts.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 02:24 PM
Apr 15

As I have explained profit and loss of publicly owned corporations has to be reported and audited.Most newspapers, big or small, are showing much smaller profits than ten or fifteen years ago. Gannett, with stock selling at $2.45 lost twenty cents per share in just the past year. They used to make a profit and their stock used to be worth ten times as much.
They have nothing to trickle down to anyone so your trickle down crap is based on less than nothing.

usonian

(10,458 posts)
8. Expanding the digital divide.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 12:41 PM
Apr 15

When factual information is paywalled, only lies, propaganda and conspiracy theories will be free.

The article is late to the game, anyway.

hunter

(38,492 posts)
13. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 01:27 PM
Apr 15

My wife and I subscribe to a lot of publications the average republican voter wouldn't touch even if these publications were free.

People are not watching or reading so much crap because it's free, they are watching and reading it because it appeals to their fears and prejudices.

The problem isn't a lack of reliable information, the problem is people who are intellectually lazy. If you combine that intellectual laziness with a lack of empathy for anyone "outside the tribe" politics becomes toxic fast.

This is nothing new, it's not a problem brought on by the internet. The U.S.A. has always suffered very strong undercurrents of anti-intellectualism and there have always been politicians eager to take advantage of the fearful and ignorant.

ancianita

(36,566 posts)
18. Interesting line of thought. Thanks.
Mon Apr 15, 2024, 02:10 PM
Apr 15

I tend to think that people who are intellectually lazy inevitably acquire fears and prejudices that keep them that way.

As for anti-intellectual undercurrents, I also think that the era of those currents is behind us now, as youth reject it out of hand, and are trying to 'future proof' their lives.

Since the 90's when I was on the nets, I've generally seen that the internet has made people more of what they'd already been inclined or groomed toward, anyway. So, they either use news to learn new information and kept their maps of reality progressively up-to-date, or used "news" to validate whatever level of learning they've stopped at, and their maps of reality stagnated. They used to approach print media the same way, when they even bothered to read, and not just get it all through second- or thirdhand reports of their social/political circles.

Overall, I've seen how Democrats have been dragging the underinformed cult kicking and screaming into the 21st Century; their rw billionaire oligarchs trying to structurally block us from doing that, but the majority of Americans already have seen and felt the harm caused by the cult's insistence on their "freedumbs," and withdrawal from the rest of the world with their cynical "amerikkka first" stupidity.

It's why, according to Simon Rosenberg, Democrats have been kicking ass in elections since 2018. We'll do it again in 2024, whether corporate media helps or not.

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