I made the break a month ago. After more than 25 years of having the Boston Globe delivered to my door (there have been many doors), I canceled my subscription on July 31.
Let me be clear. I no longer buy the print edition, but I still read the Globe daily: Online and on my free iPhone app.
This is also how I read the New York Times, TIME magazine and the (U.K.) Guardian. I dip into other newspapers and magazines every week as well as listen to NPR podcasts. All of it for free (although I do occasionally donate money to NPR).
This was a difficult break. I love the feel of paper in my hands. I like folding the paper back – listening to it crinkle and smelling the stink of the pulp and ink. I like the organization of a newspaper and the sections and being able to see which stories the editors determined were important enough for Page One and the section heads.
But why should I be the one subsidizing the news for the millions of online readers? Why do I have to pay for my news when so many others simply get it for free on the Web? If newspapers and other news outlets are going to giveaway news on the Internet then why shouldn’t I take advantage of that while it lasts?
Besides, I’ve gotten to like reading news on my iPhone. I can increase the font size. I can scroll through news rather easily. And at the click of a button I can share articles I find interesting on Twitter or Facebook. What’s not to like? Heck, I read the fantastic New York Times Magazine feature on twentysomethings before it was published in print.
Talk about undermining your paying customers!
So what advantage does a print subscriber have over an online reader? This really is the most burning question for news outlets. If they want to people to pay for the news they investigate, write and report – shouldn’t paying customers get a premium package? Shouldn’t there be some advantage for shelling out cash for the product?
But that’s not the model currently in place. Online readers – the ones who aren’t paying – get all the perks – free content, multimedia and interactive features and exclusive access to news and features not yet available to print subscribers.
That’s why I canceled my newspaper subscription. And, unfortunately, I’m a growing demographic.
New York Times Magazine article “What Is It About Twenty-somethings”
Photo by Shironekoeuro (via Flickr)