Hey Newspapers: Get Your Heads in the Game! Really.
Note: this is going to be a… not comical post. Sometimes I’m not funny. (Not often but occasionally)
The news industry of late is a little disheartening for me to think about. It’s no secret that news companies are failing big time. I could be wrong, but I don’t think any publication is seeing a rise in profit or even revenue right now. When a business is losing money, it’s important to figure out WHY. When an entire industry is losing, it should be completely obvious why.
To put it simply, no one buys newspapers! I might not be the best example because I’m in college, but I do read the news every day. I don’t go out and buy the New York Times or even the Eureka Times-Standard. Why would I do that when I can just read the exact same thing online? I can read wherever and whenever I want without having to go put $.50 in the thingy to get my news.
You mean I can get my news without any hassle? What a great idea! I for one wouldn’t read the newspaper if it wasn’t online… I just wouldn’t bother. Online news is accessible, fast, constantly updated, and best of all… free! This doesn’t make sense, though. With all these superior innovations, why do companies continue to die out? Hmm… let me think… oh yeah I’m not giving them any money.
Sure, papers don’t have to print as many copies. Variable cost is going down. However, the fixed costs (paying employees, wire services, etc) don’t change. Also crucial is revenue, revenue, revenue. News companies get their revenue from two sources: advertisements and subscriptions. Those annoying ads do pop up on nytimes.com, but advertisers pay way less for that than print ads. Ok, so ad revenue is down. No big deal. What about subscriptions?
I don’t pay for my news, and I don’t think that’s unusual by any means. Any sensible person would choose to get something for free rather than pay for it. They’re not being mean, they’re being smart. What baffles me is that news companies haven’t done anything about it! Rupert Murdoch JUST announced that some content on the Wall Street Journal‘s website would cost money to view. Murdoch and news corporations have been losing money for years as a result of the Internet.
When I first heard that online news may soon cost money, I was upset… I have a right to have access to the news! But I soon realized that no one hands out newspapers. If I was fine with paying for a newspaper a few years ago, I shouldn’t have a problem with paying again. It’s just that society has recently been spoiled with free news. No one complains when they’re given something they didn’t have before. But if it’s taken away, watch out.
News isn’t a right. That’s what public broadcasting is for. Media companies are private businesses looking to make a profit. They get to charge for their content. Some person spent time providing a service (writing an article), so why shouldn’t consumers pay for that service? More importantly, why don’t the corporations themselves realize this?
I know that I’m arguing against the mainstream. I agree that it would kind of suck to pay to get information online. But I’d much rather pay a little than not have any news after every company goes bankrupt. Just saying.