Want real news? Be willing to pay for it

“Newspapers are dying.” “Print journalism is dead.” “All news is fake.” These are common things said about journalism these days.

Trust in news and media outlets is steadily declining and that is taking a toll, both in the funding of these organizations and in the morale of the people who cover the news.

Newsrooms across the nation are shrinking. It is typical for one journalist to act as a reporter, photographer, videographer and maybe even promoter or marketer of a single story. Organizations are cutting costs by reducing the number of copy editors in the newsroom and stretching reporters to their limits.

We live in a society and generation that doesn’t like, or expect, to pay for the news that we read and watch.

Anyone can go to Buzzfeed right now and find the latest in political, entertainment and pop news for free. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News and CBS News- all the major, mainline broadcast and cable news organizations- run websites where anyone can view any story and not have to pay a fee. National news is an easy and generally free thing to come by.

But what about that local news story? What about the car crash that happened on Gage? What about the city councilman who was arrested on charges of child abuse? What about the goings on of the state senate and state house of representatives? Where do we find news on local topics that affect us as much as or even more then what the President of the United States is doing?

This type of local news is covered in the small newsrooms across the nation. This news is found in the news stands on street corners and in coffee shops. This news is found during the local 10 p.m. time slot on your broadcast television networks. This is the type of news that you should be willing to pay for.

It takes time, energy and money to cover that story about a new bar opening downtown or that investigative piece about how a politician is using taxpayer money to buy a new car or boat.

Many reporters have to pay for gas to put in their cars and for coffee to keep them awake during early morning ribbon cutting ceremonies. Governments typically charge per page for an open records request. Even keeping up a web domain costs news organizations money. 

Covering the news isn’t cheap. We need to pay reporters for covering the news and copy editors for making sure that the reporters words are clear to the reader, just like you should be paid for your work in your retail, food service, babysitting etc.

You may find it annoying to click on a news story only to have it blocked by a paywall. But remember, someone took time and effort to write that story or shoot that photo. A designer might have spent hours to make that infographic as easy for you to understand as possible. Several copy editors looked over that story to make sure is wasn’t filled with errors or mistakes.

If you really care about getting the news you deserve, be willing to spend a little bit on a monthly subscription to your local news site. When you visit Starbucks tomorrow morning, buy a newspaper along with your Pumpkin Spice Latte. You can even do little things like turning off ad blockers while visiting a news site and clicking on that random ad in the top corner.

Maybe be really ambitious and pay for a print subscription to your local newspaper and have it delivered to your house, apartment or dorm.

If you want real news that matters to you, don’t expect to get it for free. Understand that covering and publishing news costs money and be willing to help pay for some of those costs.