Journalism is worth paying money for

by Jordan Green

Nothing in life is free – and good journalism certainly isn’t, nor should it be.

On Monday, I shared to my Facebook page a link to a story I wrote. I worked hard on the story, just like other people work hard at their jobs in the hopes of making enough money to buy groceries, keep the lights on, provide for their families, and maybe -- just maybe – rent a movie on rare occasion.

I spent hours on that story. But an elderly gentleman whom I once considered a friend commented: "Shame we can't read it.”

The story was behind a paywall. That means one must pay to read the article, a task usually accomplished by purchasing a subscription to the media outlet that published it. As politely and succinctly as possible, I informed the man that he could, in fact, read the article. He just needed to buy a subscription or pick up a paper.

But oh no. Not in 2020.

In the most rude and blunt way possible, he said he refused to pay for a subscription, and he blocked me from contacting him again. How mature.

As one might infer, the gentleman doesn't want to pay for news. He feels entitled to information, which he thinks should be freely distributed.

In one sense, he's sort of right. Information is, in essence, free. But people have to create, gather, sort, and disperse it. And like everyone else on this earth, they need to make a living.

Those people are called journalists. And contrary to what some people believe – yes! – we work for our money. We have families. We have bills to pay. And we work diligently round-the-clock to provide information to people.

The problem at hand is a widespread one: Many people in our great nation are not willing to pay for news for one reason or another. But what does one lose without the news?

In its simplest form, journalism is the practice of enlightening people. Journalists teach people about lots of different topics. In our communities, we write about positive events. We tell the stories of people who are making differences in the communities in which they live. We report on our education systems. We keep you up-to-date about major happenings that have local impacts – like the coronavirus pandemic. And when needed, we expose public corruption at the highest levels of local government.

We serve an important role. And like anyone else, we have to make a living. Our meager salaries are paid with money from the sales of advertising, copies of newspapers, and newspaper subscriptions. Each source of revenue is equally important. After all, those are the products we produce. We can’t just give them away.

Obviously, some people don't understand this. Or they just don't care. Unfortunately, people feel as if they’re entitled to peruse our work without paying for it. From where did this mentality originate? It’s one thing not to purchase a product, but to demand that it be given to someone for free? That’s asinine, and to those us of who devote our lives to the cause of journalism, it’s maddening.

Journalism is, in fact, a real occupation. We journalists are not paid to publish "fake news," which, in this day and age, is any view or fact with which one does not agree. Journalists perform an essential function, and we cleave to the noble guiding principles of being fair, balanced, accurate, and respectful in our work.

We perform an essential service – one that has the power to educate and inspire people of all creeds and backgrounds. When people pay for journalism, they’re making investments in their own well beings, their own successes, and their own futures.

Everyone needs knowledge about the world around them. That’s what journalism provides – and it’s worth paying for.