The time has come, my dear friends, to decide what kind of news we want, nay deserve to hear. It was announced last week that the Newcastle Herald has introduced a paywall.
For those who don’t know, a paywall is an inbuilt system which restricts the number of stories/articles you can read per month. In the case of the Herald, it’s five stories per month (unless you’re the kind to do a google chrome incognito search then hey you’re still entitled to unlimited stories on the sly). But… what I really want to know, how does this make you feel, and most importantly, where does the money go? Keeping in mind that in the age of fake news, how can we even tell that the news we are paying for is legit?
As everyone knows, I’ve been pretty sceptical of the Herald for a while, and of traditional media (aka big business) in general, but I also respect what they do (yes I really do). By “they” of course I mean those who actually write the stories.
As a fellow writer, I understand the need for things like a paywall, because writers deserve to be paid and be paid well. Most people assume that we just sit and make things up for a living, which to an extent is what we do but we also put a lot of brain power behind such things. But, will the writers benefit from this paywall introduction or is it the institution and big business who has begun raking in dollars?
Don’t get me wrong, most major news outlets have a paywall, let me reiterate that I said major news outlets. I expect a paywall from the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald but from a local publication? Perhaps not. I just have a built-in sense of concern that this is a cash grab capping the amount of local content that’s available to us. We want and need local content by local people doing local things. I guess just don’t particularly want to choose which local things I want to read and learn about.
Maybe it’s time for us to start thinking about which other local news outlets we support and how we support them. Which local outlets do you think are really supporting the town and how can we make sure they keep doing all the things they are doing? I’m not just talking about Newcastle Live here either, there are so many amazing local publications who are killing it, and really (really) need our support. Tell us your favs so we can follow them too.