Posted by Tom Foremski - March 30, 2011
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. When the first advertising that appeared on the Internet it 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.
Because there has to be a mechanism to pay for the good stuff. Otherwise we will be overrun with 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 that buy freedom of speech through money, through PR, and other means.
We need quality journalism because media is how a society thinks about things. Quality media is vital to our decision 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, about: energy, education, environment, economy, elder care, external conflicts -- and that's just the "e" subjects...
Yet we are witnessing a whole scale dumbing down of our media, and therefore a dumbing down of our ability to make the right choices.
We need good media to make the right decisions and to 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.