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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 [View all]

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


unironic paywall meme

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