Saturday, July 14, 2018

‘Future news’ now in my life

Newspapers are increasingly dependent on their digital form, both for readers, and for revenue. It is inevitable that one day there will be no more printed newspapers, as we know them now. But up until recently, the digital options were confusing and expensive, so I never subscribed to any. That’s now changing, and I’ve subscribed to a newspaper’s digital version for the first time.

I’ve being thinking about subscribing for years, off an on, but it became a strong motivation after the 2016 US elections, especially after the Republicans took office. Every day there were new revelations about the criminality of the Republican candidate’s campaign, the corruption of the people in the new regime, all of which intensified and increased as time went on.

Most major newspapers limit the number of articles someone can access for free each month. That number is often four free articles, but I’ve seen them as low as one. With the increasing amount of news about the current regime, I was maxing out the number of free articles in the first few days of every month. I needed to subscribe to avoid that happening, and to keep seeing all the news.

Two newspapers in particular were leading the charge toward uncovering the truth about the current regime and reporting on the realities the USA faced in the new era. Those papers are The New York Times and The Washington Post. Both have excellent journalists investigating and reporting on the current regime and the larger issues, and both have broken a large number of very important stories.

The two papers were both so good, in fact, that I hesitated: I couldn’t afford both, so which one to choose? In the end, I chose The Washington Post because of the nagging doubts about how easy The New York Times takes it against the current occupant of the White House, for example, never, ever, calling something he said a lie, even when there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he was lying. It makes me wonder what other punches the paper is pulling.

Both papers have fairly equivalent digital subscription plans. The Times has made huge improvements in theirs.

When I talked about this back in 2015, the Times offered three digital subscription tiers, with an especially weird division: At the lowest rate, a subscriber could access the NYT website and use the paper’s smartphone App. The middle level included the website and the App for tablets. The highest level included the website and both Apps. I thought that was utterly bizarre, and noted that “their tiered subscription… adds value by device, not by content desired”. Maybe they heard me.

The current model still has three tiers, at slightly higher rates than 2015, BUT, all three tiers can now be used on any device. The differences between the various tiers are now based on content, not device, with more content available on higher priced tiers. All tiers also offer unlimited access to digital replicas of old editions (in 2015, all subscribers were bizarrely limited to 100 archive articles per month). The rates may have risen, but it is by far a better value than it was in 2015.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, also allows access from any device, and was slightly cheaper than The New York Times. But, of course, it wasn’t cost that made me choose the Post.

As we all know, there are many good free news sources, and I use many of them: The newspaper The Guardian is one major source, along with wire services AP and Reuters, the websites of broadcast media (CNN, MSNBC, etc), specialist sites like Vox, along with more agenda-driven sites. All of them can be useful, however, newspapers are driving the investigations into the current regime and are best placed to report first and most in depth about those investigations, and of them, the Times and the Post are the major players.

I plan on revisiting this in the future and may add the Times, too, if I’m reading enough in general to justify it. But if I’m going to add another digital newspaper subscription, I need to use it enough to justify the cost, and I’m not there yet. And, if any of this changes, I can cancel at any time.

So, I’m fully in the digital age now, and helping to support journalism that matters. I like that.

Plus, the post has a really cool slogan—I like that, too.

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