Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1090 Freedom of News

What’s all this generosity on the part of the paywall newspapers?  Some news has always been free.  At least it was if you were in the right place at the right time.  You picked up the News or the Post on the train or subway when someone left it behind.

So the great public servants at the Times and the Wall Street Journal have taken down their pay-per-view toll booth and in a stunning show of home town spirit are giving away their storm coverage.   

This could start a trend.  Two trends, actually.

Trend one:  a big story is free.  Trend two:  People stop reading the details of stories and just look at the headlines.

There’s something to be said for that second one.   We are overwhelmed with data.  (This space makes an old fashioned distinction between data and information.)

Could cable and satellite TV be far behind?  CNN could give you the first five minutes of each hour for free and then put up a screen with other stories from its website.  Then for the rest of the hour, it could run ads for sleazy accident lawyers, the companies that buy your long term settlements, class action drug lawsuits and the occasional medicine that will cure your moderate to heavy plaque psoriasis but leave you bald, impotent and with bad kidneys.  Unless, of course, you pay.

There is, of course, something to be said for just looking at the headlines and first paragraphs.  To discourage this freeloading, many websites have taken drastic steps.  They make sure the headlines are sufficiently misleading and then write the first paragraph to say nothing of newsworthiness.

There’s just enough in print or on air to make you want a little bit more, for which, of course, you have to pay.  Free news homepages are a gateway drug for news junkies.

What the websites need is a better class of advertiser.


Shrapnel:

--The forecasters apparently got Sandy’s number right.  Predictions by meteorologists often fall apart because while you can’t fool mother nature, mother nature can fool you.  The storm was horrific on the immediate coast and nothing to shrug off inland.  But it looks like early warnings and sane preparedness lessened the damage.

--Do you really want a guy for President who is ready to close FEMA and give its functions to a bunch of doofuses in the states?  The states can’t seem to get much of anything right.  So why would this be any different?

--Post #1089, an imaginary letter from a corporate CEO to employees about why they should vote for Romney (or you’ll lose your health insurance, your retirement and probably your job,) was a parody.  At the time of writing, pointing that out that would seem to have been unnecessary.  But response from at least one reader indicates it would have been wise and so the post has been slightly revised.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

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