Edit desk: Why news should be free

3

Erin Hom

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]

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3 Comments

  1. Research: also a useful skill. Have you asked whether this is still being offered, and if not, why not?

    https://thebrownandwhite.com/2016/02/15/new-york-times-available-at-lehigh/

    The Guardian has no paywall, though they do request a contribution, as they have no billionaire owners pumping cash in. News can be free only if the journalists are rich and/or willing to starve for a while, though the turnover that way’s really something else. Even IF Stone (look him up; no, not on Wikipedia, which isn’t free to run either — look up Andrew Patner’s book) had to charge for his newsletter.

    Use your next edit desk for an editorial, not an uninformed complaint (and not for riffing on someone else’s editorial. Think of your own). You should know the difference by now if you’re graduating in the spring.

  2. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    I’m guessing that early newspapers were one man organizations where his writings were considered useful enough to consider paying money for the privilege of reading it. This probably followed by or was contemporaneous with individuals promoting an idea or belief which was financially enabled by one or more persons who agreed with the idea or belief. As readership expanded people were hired to expand both the information and the circulation. I would say journalism has probably never been for free.

    I pay for a subscription to a daily newspaper which has become smaller over the years with fewer contributors and subscribers. I feel the paper reports the truth but does have a liberal bias. It’s subtle but there. The cartoonist is definitely liberal and so is the lone “home town” editorialist. There are cartoons are editorials from the right but they tend to be middle of the road which their hometown counterparts rarely are. For an additional dollar amount you can get additional articles. This is probably to pay for the additional writers.

    My newspaper caters to its subscriber base, on the whole. During football season in Atlanta you can read about the Georgia Bulldogs, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Engineers), a little about Georgia State (Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Panthers) and Kennesaw State (Football Championship Subdivision(FCS) Owls), a very little about Morehouse and Clark Atlanta (both Historically Black Colleges) HBC). Lehigh Mountain Hawks (Engineers) are not mentioned although usually you can find the score. BCS top 25 shows up every day, FCS top 25, maybe it will show up in late November or December. Papers tend to be biased toward their readership.

    That being said the Atlanta paper takes seriously its responsibility to the public and provides unbiased investigations and general interest stories. It has not sold out to the almighty dollar.

    Despite its Hawk mascot The Brown and White (B&W) seems to be a little on the liberal side. The articles, editorials and what does not appear are evidence of this, to me.

    I am pleased that I can read B&W for free and think it is worth much more than its price, You can get free news on the internet which might be truthful, highly biased or outright lies. Free information has its pitfalls.

  3. New York Times is bias news. Try the Wall Street Journal. It has general articles that are not directly related to Wall Street. Many of these articles one would not find anywhere else.

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