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Newspapers

February 25, 2010

Thursday is lie in day. Other people have Sundays, I have Sundays occasionally, but Thursday is my day.

Cup of tea. Read headlines.

I go through my RSS newsfeeds. One for most major news organisations, some with more than one feed, I open tabs for all the headlines I am interested in. I start reading. I probably only glance at some articles, maybe skim read others. Other take my interest, and lead me to open a few new windows. Some I store for later. I might retweet a link to something on twitter, I might blog about an issue that bothers me, go look for the original source cited in an article, and comment directly on an article. I can check out several perspectives on any given piece of news-immediately. This interaction means that higher and higher standards of journalism are expected, and weaknesses in reporting become apparent almost immediately.

It takes less time than reading an entire newspaper used to. Cost is no longer a factor.

I can’t quite believe I take for granted having the entire worlds news at my fingertips. My entire view of the media, and the way I use the media has changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I don’t know whether it’s a bad thing that I don’t consume an entire newspaper the way I used to. Perhaps we are raising a generation of skim readers. I can’t help thinking that picking and choosing from the entire worlds media, probably gives me a better perspective than my slavish dedication to one particular newspaper.

This does not bode well for print media though.

I want the newspapers I know and trust, and I want them online. But I am not paying for them, and if noone is paying for them, then how do they remain viable? With music, the price has adjusted and you pay a smaller unit price, because the format is smaller, easier to reproduce, but still commercially viable. Newspapers were never really overpriced, and if a website asks me to pay for an article, I look for another article.

There is the temptation to say this is good for the consumer. But how long can an industry survive, if consumers expect unlimited access to the news, higher standards, and interaction-for free? If I had to pay for it, I probably couldn’t afford it, but now it feels like being denied something I have a right to. I know I never had a ‘right’ to it before, and logically it doesn’t follow that I do. But being denied information on the basis of income doesn’t sit right either.

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