Paying for News

My post on February 2, entitled #resist laid out some of the ways I plan to resist the current political shift in our culture. One method I chose to pursue was paying for news.

Achievement Unlocked.

This past week my wife and I spoke and agreed to get a digital-only subscription to the Washington Post. We’re doing this through Amazon Prime, so it’s a significant discount, but this leaves me with enough cash to support other journalistic endeavors. It’s interesting to note, at the age of Forty-Four, I have taken up a daily ritual practiced by my PopPop each and every day 1. I read a newspaper.

I have to admit this was a tough pill to swallow.

In many ways I have no sympathy for the newspaper industry. They saw the coming digital apocalypse 2 as far back as the 80’s, and did nothing. The collapse of the industry with the arrival of ubiquitous internet access came as a result of hubris and institutional inertia.

On the other hand, while a free society doesn’t need newspapers it does require high quality journalism. At present the only viable institutions which can provide it are the survivors of the digital revolution. And so I’m reading a newspaper.

It’s been amazing.

I have not bothered with print-news my entire adult life, opting instead for what I could glean through my RSS readers and apps like Flipboard and Zite 3. These aren’t bad ways of getting news, especially if you do a decent job of curating your sources, but most sites providing their news for free aren’t really doing long-form journalism. Online sources are typically short-form posts, geared toward viewing quick on a small screen 4.

Reading the Washington Post, on the other hand, requires my attention. Because the stories are longer, they tend to go into more depth. They also provide links to further articles the Post has covered regarding a particular topic. Because I read digitally, I also have access to whatever videos the paper’s archives have linked to the article. It adds a layer of depth to the process of pondering the news.

Also absent are the insane amount of ads, always attempting to bypass my ad blocker 5. I get the news, not desperate pleas to click on links.

One week in and I can say what sprang from a sense of civic responsibility has already transformed into my preferred way to receive and digest the news. I should have done this years ago.

  1. And witnessed by me as I cut out the comics. I miss him dearly. 
  2. Normally, I hate the use of “apocalypse” to convey a destructive event. The word just means “revelation.” In this instance, the industry had a revelation, and the populace also had one — that reading daily news off of dead trees makes no sense in a connected world. 
  3. Oh how I miss Zite. 
  4. Or when the boss isn’t looking. 
  5. I have always been philosophically opposed to ad blockers, as I realize they are part of the deal I make to read a site for free. In the last year, however, the way ads were handled on many site became unbearable — they actually caused my browser to completely stop functioning. I do whitelist sites which play nicely, though. 

One Comment

  1. Jamison says:

    We also got a subscription, though I didn’t even think to get it through Amazon. We also support our local public radio station, and I’m looking into another local non-profit news site that might be worth supporting.

    The era of distorted reality needs to be fought at all costs.

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