Should we pay money to read news online?

In today’s online era, newspaper companies and tv news channels have simultaneously started to broadcast news through their websites too. This is probably because most readers have switched their reading habits from the paper version to the online mode.

During our childhood days, newspapers use to get delivered daily morning at our home. Newspapers had its own distinct smell, primarily because for its unique recycled paper quality. And on Sunday’s most newspaper sellers would provide some supplementary pages, generally in exchange of few extra bucks.

Newspapers at certain localities were important beyond its news content, as a symbol of social status. Newspapers meant style to many, a cup of coffee combined with newspaper in hand and rolling on a reclining chair use to be a preferred style of many individuals, and some still hold the practice alive today. While others use to buy newspaper for other miscellaneous purposes like finding their matrimonial alliance to searching a job or property.

Newspapers weren’t something very cheap always, cost wise, to splash its news droplets on every poor man’s house. Although one single subscription might not hurt one much economically but the monthly and annual expenses for regular subscription made many to resent silently.

But things are no more exactly the same, neither in developed world nor in the developing. Infiltration of internet even at remote parts of the globe is gradually making it much easier for people to get access to news, online.

You can now save significant amount of money that you would have otherwise paid every month to purchase paper version of newspapers and get the same news from the internet, absolutely free and from multiple news providers.

Since smart phones boomed in the market news reading on the web appears to have reached its pinnacle. Opening a laptop or pc to read news would have hindered many to go to online to read news always, but these smartphones have made that quite simple, simply a tap away! I think this is a good chance, to get to know the news is part of every human’s basic right and people should have options to get that free of cost.

However, recently we can find that some of the well renowned news media companies are gradually trying to convert their free online news to a pay and use service. They are starting with very low cost probably 10 dollars for 2-3 months subscription. Why such a monetizing attempt of the online news? May be they are not making enough profit by sell of news as they use to do with their paper version. Or may be human avarice for money has no end. Whatever may be the cause it might be uncomfortable for many readers who love to read news free of charge online.

Fortunately, some of the very popular old news broadcasting companies have not yet taken such initiative and are still providing news free over the internet.

If all such big news providers start to monetize by making online news a paid service, then the problem will start for people like me who don’t want to pay to read news on the internet. However, if such monetization of online happens in real world one day, small less popular news companies may find it as an advantage to blossom and make a hike in their popularity by allowing free access to news.

Social networking sites in this regard, possibly makes the best earning from news display, despite not being the primary news collector. Since a large number of people these days rely on social networking sites to scroll through news event from different news media, their ad based revenue remains quite solid.

“…the journalists, who write the news articles. How do they earn money if news is to be circulated free on the web?”

Although we see the headlines and a briefing of a news in the social networking site, we don’t always visit to the parent news broadcaster’s website to read the news. This means that the host news company don’t get that benefit what the social networking site gets, while it is so true that collecting news and then getting it typed in readable and presentable format is a daunting task.

This brings me to the journalists, who write the news articles. How do they earn money if news is to be circulated free on the web? Probably this easy access to news is not good for them. Not only that quality standard writing are now gradually becoming available in low profile news medias too due to a global rise of literacy and quality education.

Another sad point for journalists is that not every reader cares for good scholarly written articles. Many of the readers just want to read news in a pick a boo manner, similar to texting abbreviated text messages on their mobile phones, with no time or interest to delve into the news writers hard work. Well in that way sometimes it feels online news companies should also charged some money  to access their news. However, one thing pertaining to this issue one should not forget is that once a newspaper company which use to serve a small cluster of people at a region of the globe is now getting a global circulation by virtue of the internet, and therefore there loss and profit issue is really complicated.

“Whereas news is like a flower in the common man’s garden where both a truck driver and the president of a country can visit.”

But there is a flaw here too. Not every person who can’t cut a share of their monthly budget to read online news, is a poor reader. There are plenty of shrewd readers who truly appreciate the content of the writer but might not be willing to or able to pay for it.

In this regard, I feel one must not confuse an article written by a journalist for a common man with a research paper written for a mathematician, for instance. Popular research content publishing journals publish on a particular subject areas like maths or astrophysics which are frequently subscribed by universities for their libraries as reference materials to read for their staff and students. This can be a potential way of earning for those journal companies. Since mathematicians doing research have no other alternative way to gain access to a pure research article, they have no alternative other than getting access to the paid version to read and cite articles.

Whereas news are like flowers in the common man’s garden where both a truck driver and the president of a country can visit. Therefore, making online news paid may not be a wise thing to do. Even many very rich person spend cautiously these days.

Finally how does this author accesses news? I read news through news feed section of a popular social networking site. Recently, I met through some branded international news providers, urging to go to their paid version to read their articles, which obviously prompted me to write this article. I removed those news companies from my liked list of newspapers.

In my opinion, news media companies should try to earn their revenue by other means like ads. Most readers don’t mind ads as long as the news is free. A paid version of news may be kept optional for readers who don’t want to view scattered ads around a news item.

Well finally time will answer if really one day all online news providing companies will shift to a paid subscription edition like printed paper version of newspapers.

At least people like this author will be the last person to support this mode of commercialization. News means the voice of truth, freedom and democracy, hence my appeal will be to keep online news free of charges.

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