For a free press–please pay!

January 20, 2009

With the ever increasing fall of bookstores and impending newspaper layoffs, I’d like to echo Alex Beam’s call for readers to reach for their wallets.

In case you missed his January 9 column, “Closing Costs,” in the Boston Globe, it opens: “Here is a dispatch from the Land of No Suprises: Bookstores–buffed by the recession, by Amazon, by electronic reading devices–are closing their doors”. He points out that, easy as it is to go to Amazon for books and read newspapers online for free, by behaving normally, “you kill the things you love.”

In Boston, after several waves of reporter buyouts, people keep telling me that they’ve dropped their subscriptions to the Globe because it’s gone downhill, and, anyway, they can get it on line, for free. Duh.

My apologies for stating the obvious, but many of my friends don’t seem to get that, in  a vicious financial cycle,  with fewer paying customers,   the paper can get fewer advertisers, revenues go down, and, as a result, the Globe and many other papers have had to  “encourage”  their most senior,  talented reporters to leave.  The Globe announced  a new round of editorial layoffs just last week.

I’ll be writing more about this–but for the time being, please support the  free press–by paying for it.

The New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group, of Cambridge, MA.

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4 Responses to “For a free press–please pay!”


  1. Here is something to ponder… we used to watch TV for free and PAY for newspapers. Now we are willing to pay for TV and want our newspapers for free.
    Dick Pirozzolo, APR


  2. David Carr, media reporter for the New York Times, wrote that newspapers have to start charging for Internet access. Free does not work as a business model. I bet a lot of people do not want to pay for online news — and that there would always be some who would try to offer it free even newspapers started charging for access. Micropayments have been suggested as an opportunity — like iTunes for music — but people don’t reread newspaper articles the way they listen to music again and again.

    • anharris Says:

      For some people who should know better, it’s almost a matter of pride that they don’t pay to read the New York Times. I just don’t understand. I’m perfectly willing to pay for Internet access to the Wall Street Journal if only because that provides me with access to the Dow Jones archive of articles going ‘way back. On the other hand, new financial models are springing up: Xconomy, for example, has local tech companies as sponsors, much the way public television does. Xconomy, which was founded by a group from Technology Review, also holds fee-based business and educational events. I hope they’re successful.


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