March 21st, 2018


How you should pay for newspapers in the 21st century

I saw yesterday that Google had announced a News Initiative, to make it easier for people to support newspapers. And that they were working with numerous newspapers in partnership to manage this.

Great, I thought, finally someone is going to drag newspaper funding into the 21st century.

But no. They're making it easier for you to sign up to individual newspapers online, using your Google login.

The problem being that I don't want to read individual newspapers. There are pretty much no newspapers where I read enough of them to justify subscriptions. But there are dozens of newspapers where I read an article or two per month, and probably over a hundred over the course of a year, and paying for that number of subscriptions for the occasional article makes no sense.

The solution I want is to pay a standard amount per month which gives me access to _all_ of the newspapers* - and then divides up the subscription between the different newspapers based on how many articles I read from each one. A Spotify for newspapers, if you like.

I'd be fine with this having limits. If I'm reading 20 articles per day from The Guardian then fair enough, tell me I need to upgrade my subscription to cover that. Access to the deep archives might be an add-on. But in general, take £20/month** out of my account, give me access to all of the papers, ad-free, and make sure they all get their fair share.

(With thanks to Mike Scott, who pointed out this obvious solution a fair while ago. It's been going round in my head since then.)

*And I mean all. There are some which I don't want to read, and some that frankly I'd rather didn't exist, but generally I'd be in favour of this approach including all of them. Obviously newspapers who didn't want to take part in this wouldn't be forced into it. But I'd hope that once it started to snowball it would be an obvious win.
**£20/month is a finger-in-the-air number. I'd be happy to pay more than that. Looking at various newspapers it looks like £2-£3/week is what most charge for access (although The Times is £6/week).

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Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.