Editorial missed the point of Time story

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I’d like to respond to your Feb. 11 editorial titled, “Shame on the naysayers of news.” I read the Time article too, and I think your reaction to it completely missed the article’s main focus. The article’s purpose was not at all about what newspapers do well or not well in terms of serving the public or covering news.

The article’s focus was actually on how newspapers have evolved to a point where they now must now find a way to become economically viable in a time when people are buying fewer and fewer printed papers. Ironically, more people than ever are actually reading newspapers, but they’re doing it online for free, and the expectation of free content is a key problem. When two of the three main revenue sources — subscriptions and newsstand sales — are shrinking, papers need to do more than rely on online advertising to stay alive, especially in bad economic times.

Some solutions proposed in the Time article include charging reasonable periodic subscription fees for accessing online content and a “micropayment” system (similar to the one itunes uses) in which readers pay 5 cents to read a specific article. The micropayment option, I think, is a smart one. As an iTunes user, I’ve experienced how slick it is.

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While you might be tired of reading articles that want to put a headstone over newspapers, the fate of newspapers is precarious at best right now. How many more major newspapers must file for bankruptcy before that’s clear?

Your point about the truth factor setting newspapers apart is well taken, however. Blogs, discussion forums, online newspaper comment sections, etc. are indeed often full of misinformation. I also want to compliment you on the news available through the AlbertLeaTribune.com site. I read articles on it every day.

But I no longer pay for a printed copy of the paper. Hmmm.

Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

Albert Lea