By Ishani Chettri (‘20)
As the digital age improves and advances daily, the unfortunate truth is that print journalism is on its gradual path to the grave. Print journalism will be dead in the next couple of years due to the inevitability of technological innovations. We have to deal with that, especially those who will miss the tangible feel of a newspaper. But as we continue to transition to online news sources, we have to transition the fees too.
Newspaper subscriptions are not cheap. Though there are deals like $1.99 per week for access to any articles or $2.99 for three months as a trial, a full subscription can be as expensive as $19 per month, which amounts to over $100 a year. While it’s not the case for every news source, reputable news companies like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post require you to subscribe for a monthly (sometimes weekly) fee for full access to their articles and more.
As a student journalist myself, gathering information and reporting does require time and energy but even I fail to justify the price for buying the news. Yes, the news consists of not only reporting what has been seen and what has happened but also the details that have led the observed events to occur. It’s going beyond what is shown and connecting other aspects of the human experience to the reader besides credibility.
Reliability and relatability are built within these articles and that is what readers are paying for, not just the content itself. Money from newspaper subscriptions goes towards funding the websites where the articles are published, due to the fees for the domain, and to the reporters themselves.
While reporters would love to report in places like Xinjiang for the Uighur genocide in China or the economic crisis in Venezuela, they need money to actually go and stay there for at least a week to get a dent of good reporting done. Unfortunately, journalists don’t make much as neurosurgeons, stockbrokers, or professional gamers depending on what level of reporting is done. International correspondents and foreign reporters will not be able to pay for their trip if it involves staying at a foreign location for some time. That money has to come from somewhere.
If people want better reporting, then it’s only possible if there is enough money to do so, especially for overseas investigation cases. It’s not like an article can be made in one day. It’s easy to write an article itself but the reporting is what makes or breaks an article’s credibility, readership, and overall trust in the information provided.
Journalists provide a plethora of news despite the vast amount of events that will never be covered due to the number of journalists in the world, which may seem large but is small in comparison to the amount of news that pops up around the world daily. Journalism is a field that requires more than talking to one person and writing down what they say. It’s a career that takes an immense amount of time that is rewarded through readership, awareness, and movements built off of the news that’s covered.
Paying for the news is more than paying for the words. What’s being bought is the work done to provide such information in a clear, concise way that’s condensed enough to get through the heads of the public that’s in a rush. Money for the news is money for more reliable knowledge of what goes on beyond borderlines.