I have no problem, in principle, with the idea of paying money to newspapers in order to read their articles. But to persuade me to pay, you’d need to offer a very high-quality product. At the moment, I pay for the Financial Times and I like it, but I’m not certain its worth the money. I also subscribe to three magazines, all of which I’m happy with. Ezra Klein, however, is a believer in newspapering work:
But I do think the resistance to paying for news is a bit silly. In Wonkbook, I link to a lot of Wall Street Journal content. A few days ago, a reader e-mailed to ask how he was supposed to read those articles — they were behind a paywall! I almost felt bad telling him the answer.
I read the WSJ sometimes. But it’s going to be a cold day in hell before I voluntarily surrender money to firm controlled by Rupert Murdoch when there are alternatives. So here’s a word of advice on how to read WSJ articles you see linked to on blogs without paying. What you need to do is click the link, then your browser will go to an article stub featuring a headline. Then copy the headline and paste it into Google. The article should pop up as your top search result, and if you click that link you’ll see the story free and clear.
At any rate, the much-discussed-by-journalists question of whether people “should” pay for news is silly. People should pay for things when the value is worth the price. If you’re looking to sell articles to people, you have to ask how to make it worth the price—your product needs to be valuable and differentiated from competitors. You can’t just say “well, I’ll read TPMDC instead of The New Yorker.” So people who like The New Yorker have reason to pay.