The Paywall Argument

Recently, the Lake Sun Leader went to a paywall web site.  This paywall has a limit of ‘free’ views (15) and encourages those who wish to view the paper’s site regularly to pay a subscription fee of $10.99 per month.  This allows for full use of their web site and the daily print version of the paper delivered to your home.  While there are many arguments against such a paywall, it was an inevitable transition, one we should have expected.  It was likely made above the head of Editor Joyce Miller and was a decision based on profitability.  There are other underlying factors, to be sure, but Gatehouse Media’s decision to utilize paywalls as a source of revenue has the undeniable ring of the bottom line.  Gatehouse faces a balloon payment in 2013 that looms over the corporation like Damocles’ sword.  The company’s balance sheet shows it’s assets to be valued at less than half the amount of the balloon payout.  Gatehouse Media is working short-term, attempting to solve an immediate business problem.  One way to do that is to implement a paywall for access to the digital version of the Lake Sun Leader.

The staff of the Lake Sun are simply doing their jobs by installing it.

Corporate media, such as Gatehouse, have to satisfy Wall Street and the debts they owe them.  The paywall works to the corporation’s benefit in ways that go beyond the bottom line.  As our Congress continues to take vacations on their march toward the neo-liberal economic goal of deregulating corporations, restriction of information becomes necessary.  In a democracy, in order to push through an agenda of this type, you MUST have control of the media.  The agenda of deregulating corporations is contrary to the good of the citizens of the country.  Destroying social safety nets, enacting legislation that requires we purchase health insurance or else, allowing Wall Street and Big Banks to raid our treasury unpunished, waging endless war via remote-controlled drones in far off lands, without debate, to benefit the military industrial complex and corporate resource, allowing for the silent creep of the police state and its surveillance networks; all of these require the silence of the media.  If these stories were reported in a concise way in the media, the public would see a clearer picture of the sins being committed in their names. We would see the grand illusion exposed, the sickening corruption of our democratic process by corporate lobbyists and interests.  We would have the information, the facts, to act against those who would continue their daily crime sprees.  We would see the Wall Street control of our government end.  We would see the corporate control of policy end.  We would see a return to peace as we would understand that we are the world’s leading exporter of terror.  We would understand the corporation unleashed is bad for us, as it will continue to drive down wages as we ‘must compete in the global market’.  We would see that England and the European Union are enforcing austerity right now, the will of Wall Street and their neo-liberal conspirators, against the will of the people.  We would see the pictures of police shooting into crowds of protesters in Spain, as they resist the decisions of government ‘leaders’, who are acting much like our own ‘representatives’.  We would know Greeks have had back-breaking taxes assessed on them through their electric bills, even in winter months.  We would see that the world is being pushed toward forced austerity at the end of a gun.  If we had information like that, ‘We The People’ would stand up as one and raise our voices, demanding the crime spree ends.  We would rise like a divine chorus, shouting that justice be done.

But that doesn’t serve the bottom line.  That doesn’t serve the corporate interest.  Therefore, information must be restricted, dispersed, glossed over, hidden.  If the public were well-informed, the corporate agenda would not be allowed to continue.  We would not let them destroy our children’s future.

Our Lake Sun staff was recently honored by the Missouri Press Association.  They were honored five times for their work.  Content Manager Eric Dundon received two awards for his design work, yet he might be the first to tell you that his artistic license was limited.  It was limited by Gatehouse’s decision earlier this year to centralize its operations.  Creativity, in corporate, cookie cutter media, is stifled in the name of ‘streamlining’ the processes to become more profitable.  It takes less work to have similar layouts for groups of papers.  That Mr. Dundon’s work was so well received is a high honor for him.  Perhaps his will be the vision for one of the cookie patterns.

We are lucky that we have a staff this well decorated.  Their awards are well-earned.  While I might not agree with all of their viewpoints or editorial decisions, I will give credit where credit is due.

It is a shame that we are being deprived the ability to view our paper without paying a monthly subscription fee.  It is a shame that their work it isn’t a part of the public record with access for anyone interested, instead of being restricted to those who can afford it.  It isn’t fair to us.  It isn’t fair to them.  The goal of any paper is circulation.  The unfortunate reality of the paywall restriction is that it won’t generate any raises for those who work at our papers.  Any increase in subscription dollars will go to the bottom line, not in their pockets.  They will be forced to make arguments about the value of their intellectual properties being worth something in cyberspace.  They will make them with straight faces.

The staff of the Lake Sun is just doing their job.

American Spring is going to do its job as well.

New email followers of http://www.americanspring2011.com will receive a free passport to information.  We will help anyone interested in being informed.  Simply go to http://www.americanspring2011.com and sign up to follow the blog.  You will receive updates to each new post straight to your email, twitter or phone.  You don’t have to agree with what you read there.  Just know that I’m happy you’re reading it.  It is a collection of articles and information from around the world and around the block.  It is free of corporate bias.  I have yet to receive a check from George Soros, contrary to popular assumption.  I am flattered, although I am not a ‘branch’ of Occupy Wall Street,  I sympathize with them.  I am a man who understands that when liberties are threatened, when our way of life is being undermined all around us in the name of a very select few, it is time to speak up.  It is time to tell the truth.  It is time for us all to have the information we need to make informed decisions based on our values and our children’s future.

It is time for us to stand.

We shouldn’t be deprived of the quality of our local newspaper because it will satisfy Gatehouse’s bottom line.  We should be able to support the Lake Sun’s staff’s work with our interest.

Truth shouldn’t come with a price tag.

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One thought on “The Paywall Argument

  1. Pingback: A Letter to American Spring from Eric Dundon on ‘The Paywall Argument’ | American Spring

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