Support good journalism — pay the wall

2011-04-01 00:00

I DON'T understand the current debate over the New York Times paywall. Yes, it has holes in it and yes, it is a bit lame but the question it asks is: will you support quality journalism?

That's an important question.

But it seems that the Geekorati believe that once something is free then it should be free forever, and that if you can get past the New York Times paywall, then you are smart.

I disagree and here's why.

I remember when the Internet first started, when domain names were free, and when the first advertising that appeared on the Internet was greeted with howls of derision.

The pundits claimed that Internet users wouldn't stand for it.

Well, we got used to it and that's what will happen to quality journalism — we will get used to paying for it, and dare I say it, see it as a civic duty. There has to be a mechanism to pay for the good stuff, otherwise we will be overrun by mediocre and poor-quality content. And that's a very bad thing.

We need serious journalists to be healthy and able to challenge the claims of companies and governments, and to stand up to those who buy freedom of speech with money, with PR, and other means. We need quality journalism because media is how a society thinks about things. Quality media is vital to our decision-making process.

Software engineers are familiar with the expression "garbage in, garbage out".

If we, as a society, have garbage media then we will make garbage decisions.

Yet we are facing a media landscape that is becoming ever more dominated by garbage media and that means that we, as a society, will be making garbage decisions.

That's bad because we have some very important decisions to make, decisions about energy, education, the environment, the economy, elder care and external conflicts — and those are just the "e" subjects.

Yet we are witnessing a wholesale dumbing down of our media, and therefore a dumbing down of our ability to make the right choices.

We need good media to help us make the right decisions so that we can make a decent society for ourselves and our communities.

I hope you can join me in supporting quality media. It doesn't have to be the New York Times, it can be a local newspaper that you admire but it is important to support the best journalism wherever you see it. Pay the wall and help to make an important contribution to the quality of our society and government.


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