HOW MUCH CAN YOU PAY TO STAY INFORMED?

You started paying to read around 2010. That’s when almost every major newspaper was charging you for digital readership. The rates were reasonable then. Now you have to ask yourself “Which one can I afford?”

Like millions of other Americans, I want to be informed and the new emerging “establishment” is making that difficult. So my heart drops a little when those dreaded words pop up. You are out of free articles for the month.

My income is fixed and I have no line item for subscriptions. For people like me, the fees make reading prohibitive. There is no workaround. To access fact-based news and columnists or op ed writers ( John Avlon, Naomi Klein, Michael Eric Dyson, Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman) I have to pay.

INCREASE REVENUES, REDUCE EXPENSES, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

Without paid subscriptions to the major print outlets, I am missing at least 40 percent of salient news in sufficient depth to draw logical conclusions and make a fair assessment of what the Hell is happening. I don’t need to hear the argument that operating expenses are up and reporters and writers must be paid fairly. That’s a yes to both. But if the reporter writes and there’s no one (but the rich) there to read him, does he really make a difference?

At the same time that print publication owners are sucking us dry for the privilege of reading their work, they are laying off good writers and veteran journalists. Sacking experienced reporters is the worst move owners can make for obvious reasons including big holes in morale, a negative impact on the economy, and a raft of misinformation. The stories I do see present an alarming increase in grammatical inaccuracies that can drastically alter the meaning of a statement or narrative. When I see a headline in a “trusted” publication without an apostrophe when one is certainly needed, or a sentence with incorrect subject-verb agreement, I just don’t get a good feeling.

#STAYSTUPID

The most frightening offshoot of limited access to accurate and properly presented factual information is the slow disintegration of the nation’s intelligence, its knowledge base, and its ability to reason. We cease to be curious or civil. This is the beginning of the gestation of a new era of “dumbing down”with a lunatic president at the helm — a man who, apparently, cannot be stopped. Not even by a bullet-proof Special Counsel charged with the job of bringing forth the truth, unfettered by political interference.

So pay the reading fee, boy! If you have the money, you may read as much and as often as you like. If not, well, you’re just too poor. Whether intended or not, it is a sinister form of control that becomes the modern day equivalent of those times when slaves were not allowed to read or write. Except #WeThePoor are all in the slave category now, aren’t we?

NO MEULLER REPORT FOR YOU, AND NO NYT OP-ED EITHER

In late March, 2019, law professor and Supreme Court lawyer, (and NYT Op-Ed contributor) #NealKatyal posted his op ed on AG William Barr’s “troubling letter” with regard to the Meuller Report. I “read” about it on Twitter which, thankfully, is still a free forum, although its news value is hovering at zero. I’d love to read Mr. Katyal. He’s a very intelligent man with good intel. But, dammit! I’ve reached my allocation of NYT articles for the month. I can now pay $1 a week for a limited time to test drive the NYT (yeah, as if I need to see whether or not it’s fit to read) or wait for bits and pieces of Mr. Katyal’s story to appear on social media.

I wonder if these publications realize that their less than brilliant strategy contributes to a critical loss of readership. They brag that online subscriptions are up by double digit percentage points but with a little more digging, I can guarantee that you’ll find those increases are corporate subscriptions, not John and Jane Doe’s.

SO, UM, OKAY LIKE WHAT IF WE DO SOMETHIN’

May I suggest that the MasterPublications re-think their marketing strategy before too many of us start writing and talking just like that headline reads.

  • Stop being so greedy. Lower the cost of the on-line subscription and go for volume.
  • Carry over the allocations. If you allow 5 stories a month and I read only 3, then add the two remaining to the next month.
  • Stop ruining life for the reader who is getting the story through an on-line curated newspaper. EXAMPLE: http://bit.ly/2PnLQZ3

The curator has already “paid” for the privilege. You’re getting more exposure. Everybody wins.

  • After I’ve used up my four or five stories, let me read another one free (or charge me a dime; it’s worth it) if I do so within the next week. Hell, at this point you might as well start a punch card.
  • If one publication is affiliated with another, give the reader a break on the second subscription. I’ll never see that ad for a sale at Amazon if I’ve used up all my stories with The Washington Post. (BTW, check your privileges with WAPO if you’re a Prime member with an Android phone)

Better yet, dear newspaper wizards, why don’t you just stop the presses. Go totally digital. You must know by now how inefficient it is to continue ink and paper printing. Restore the forests. Save money. Invest in your warrior writers. And give your readers more than just a glance.

Word lover, grammarian and writer of unknown books and screenplays. I hope to be rewarded posthumously, and by deductive reasoning, that’s not very far away.