The Abilene Reporter News has been planning for quite some time to implement an online subscription service for its news coverage. If this plan is realized, the Reporter News would be following a trend of many other newspapers around the country in converting to an online format instead of a daily delivered print product.
With this change, however, comes the necessity to charge for online content. This may come as a huge surprise for many people reading this, who normally associate the internet, and the news that it provides, to be a mostly free platform.
Long gone are the days of hooking your phone line into your computer for dial-up access. In today’s WiFi-enabled world, free access to the web is as easy as driving to the nearest coffee shop or fast food restaurant. It’s effortless and, for the most part, free.
But with the rise of wireless internet has also been the reappearance of other services that charge a monthly fee for access. Services like Netflix, XBOX Live, and Hulu Plus charge monthly (or yearly) for access to their entertainment services.
And from the looks of things, people are okay with it. Many people have ditched their cable or satellite provider to essentially live off of these services alone. Entertainment is a big part of our day, and so is the news.
The newspaper format allows readers to go more in-depth on a story, whereas broadcast TV or cable news may only scratch the surface. It is important for people be informed citizens and keep up to date with what is going on in the world, our country, and most importantly our community.
The decision of the Reporter News and other news outlets around the world to switch to an online subscription model may seem jarring to some, but it is a necessary cost to receive this valuable information on a daily basis. With physical paper sales on the decline and online readership increasing, it isn’t just a smart business move, it is almost a requisite for many papers to stay afloat.
By the same token, however, it is up to the newspapers to set competitive and reasonable pricing points for daily access. The information they have is important, but they should not be withholding it from the masses with an expensive price tag.
Whether you like it or not, there’s no stopping the newspaper transition from a physical to a digital medium. In order for reporters like ourselves at The Optimist to continue telling the stories happening around our campus and city, we must adapt the form of our message as technology rapidly changes. And with this change in medium, must also come a change in how the subscriptions are collected.