Should investigative reporting be premium paid content?

Journalist Steve Outing discusses investigative reporting being premium paid content on his site.  MediaNews Group will be implementing a metered paywall at a few of its newspapers within a few months. He calls the strategy of MediaNews Group “disturbing.”

“The newspapers, in York, Pennsylvania, and Chico, California, will give users free access to as many as 25 ‘premium’ articles monthly, after which they’ll have to pay an undetermined fee unless they subscribe to the print newspapers,”  said MediaNews President Joseph Lodovic. “Premium content may include certain columns and investigative reporting,” he said.

Outing believes that investigative reporting should not be included in the premium content even though he considers it premium content. Instead, it should be free to users for the betterment of the community. He says investigative journalism is the most important kind of journalism for many newspapers.

“How about if newspaper publishers decide to go with web paywalls (not my idea of a good strategy), they at least exempt investigative journalism in the interests of an informed citizenry?” asks Outing.

I agree with Outing. I think it’s understandable for papers wanting and needing to charge for certain content. But making users pay for investigative journalism seems unethical. Outing gives an example of a paper uncovering private contractors who are dumping waste into a lake where most of the city’s water comes from.  Findings like that should be free to users.


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