Every editor at The Brown and White has the opportunity to write an edit desk during the semester. Many people are well-informed on issues and have opinions they want to share. In my case, my brain came to a stop the second I was notified that it was my turn to write one.
I have no clue what to write, I thought. I spent days trying to come up with a topic.
Finally, I went straight to The New York Times to look at its editorial and op-ed sections for some enlightenment and inspiration. After clicking and reading a few articles, I was greeted by a screen that read, “You have reached your limit of free articles. Academic offer: Get 1 year for $30.” I had completely forgotten that The New York Times only allows readers to access five articles per month for free.
It was so frustrating. $30 for a year of articles? We are basically paying for knowledge and information — I thought that’s what tuition is for. While students are constantly in class, doing homework, studying for exams and writing papers, they are also expected to be able to afford our own food and housing if they live off campus, which is stressful enough.
As a student who already pays for tuition and books, I expect to at least have full access to information on the internet. I did pay for my computer, after all.Yet information and news are only becoming more difficult to obtain. Access to information is no longer a luxury for the general public.
Many people do not have the time or means to sit at their computers and read the news every day. Some don’t even have the means to receive a proper education and are prone to believe the first piece of information that is given to them.
So how are we supposed to know what is truly going on in our world? Where is the freedom of knowledge?
We live in a world where everything has a price tag, even the words we read.
When news becomes something we have to pay for, news organizations will change the content they feed us. Reporters have to start writing stories that will attract us in order for their work to sell and for their organizations to make money. They will not necessarily focus on the stories that need to be told.
In my Journalism and Democracy class, we explore how conducting journalism and making a profit impact each other and the many complications that might arise when discussing their relationship. One of the biggest themes in this seminar class is the motive behind journalism — is it to report the most accurate facts and stories or is it to write whatever will be the most profitable?
If it’s the latter, our news can be extremely skewed and we wouldn’t even know it.
Although it has been argued otherwise, news is supposed to be for the people. But it seems like it has now become for the consumer.
The information we receive is always riddled with bias. If my news isn’t going to be 100 percent objective, then I believe that we, the people, should at least have full access to it.
There are plenty of reasons why everyone, not just students, should have access to news for free. Information that is produced supposedly for us should be given to us for free. News organizations need to stop looking at us like we’re buyers, and more like we’re all uninformed citizens.
There are many problems within the world of journalism. Many major news organizations are being purchased by various billionaires who only care about increasing profit, and the nature of the industry has become so focused on what will sell rather than what the people should know.
So, no, I won’t be paying $30 for a year of The New York Times.
Erin Hom, ’19, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].