This week's theme: Increased fees

Just coming off of my American Airlines baggage fee rant, I read this today:

I read the NY Times online daily.

What's this you speak of, Richard Perez-Peña? (Peña means pineapple in Español. Love that last name.) I'm going to be CHARGED for reading the INTERWEB?

Yep, the - the most frequented news source on the web - is considering the idea of instituting a subscription-based service for its loyal readers and intends to roll it out sometime in early 2011. (Story here.)

My first thought: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I shan't pay for access to your stupid site.

My second, more reasonable thought: Ok, well... maybe... This sort of makes sense to me. I suppose that there should be a price for well-written, "premium" journalism. Any Joe Blow can hock his website as, "fair and balanced" (ah-hem..., and publish mis-spelled crap.

Maybe it's time we consider the value of objective journalism in today's world.

(Of course, you may or may not consider the NY Times as objective - but I'll tell you what, I prefer it to, say, the crazy L.A. Times.)

We all know that newspapers as we knew and loved them have been hit hard in the past ten years. There's virtually no place for them in today's households. They're a relic, really. An anachronism. No one [under the age of 55] reads them. Ever. (Tell me I'm wrong.)

If we want to continue reading some sort of accountable, objective news in an easy and accessible fashion we may need to consider the costs that are associated with this service, no? Solid journalism isn't a right, it's a luxury.

Journalists need to be paid for the time they take to investigate. For the time they take to confirm that they're sources are trustworthy. For the time they take to travel to where the news is happening. And for so many other reasons.

Someone has to pay for it. Why shouldn't it be us?

But then again, money begets influence and newspapers are always influenced by someone - I know that. I mean, just 7 months ago the NY Times took a loan from known Mexican-monopolist, Carlos Slim Helú for a shabby $250 million. I wonder what he's getting in return?

(Carlos is a mega-entrepreneur in the land of my daughter's birth - and he already purchased about 7% control of the Times back in 2008. He essentially owns the telecommunications industry in Mexico and resides in place #3 on Forbes list of overly wealthy people. His net worth is $35 BILLION, just after Warren Buffett and ($37 billion) and Bill Gates ($40 billion).)

That said, should we pay? Otherwise we may be stuck reading a bunch of, "he said, she said" biased blogs and crappy news websites.


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