When I logged on to the Star.com website recently, I got wind of news Toronto's flagship paper will soon be adding a subscriber layer to their website, and offering five free articles for non-registered users. I thought to myself, almost reactively: "Damn. That sucks."
But does it? Did I expect my favourite news sites to always bring me free news? Maybe I was spoiled at my days running news network Digital Journal, where we didn't charge for our news content (and don't plan to, if I'm correct in predicting what my successors are doing with the site).
In the past two years, I've paid for more news than I ever have, thanks to a oh-so-due realization I feeding myself from a trough that could be hurting my fellow journalists. I've paid for a Wired print and online subscription, and gladly opened my wallet for two years' worth of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
I plan on subscribing to TheStar.com, which has fast become my go-to site for Toronto and Ontario news. The reporting of journo stars such as Daniel Dale deserve to be compensated for their work from readers who appreciate what they're doing.
I know many of us still want to wallow in the sandy beach of free news. I do too, in a way. But a more hard-nosed part of me demands I help fund the media outlets I've long enjoyed all these years, much like I pay for Netflix so I can watch movies and shows I would have likely paid for via iTunes or similar service.
It's inevitable some news media needs a layer of paid subscription to survive. Not all, but some. More importantly, legacy media has to rethink its business model, which has been the mantra since Google and Facebook crushed print media's advertising lifeline, but until those industry-shaking ideas take shape, I'm going to help fund the outlets that produce strong journalism I read daily.
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