The Sydney Morning Herald has a deal for academics and students right now that lets academics purchase a year’s subscription for $60 for digital and print (delivered on campus) and $40 for digital alone.
I think that’s excellent value, and I’ve signed up (to the digital–no sense wasting the trees). I’d urge other academics and students to do likewise, for several reasons:
- The value alone. $60 for a year’newspapers is cheap! I’m also paying $8 a week for the New York Times (digital only). That is at the level where I might consider de-subscribing, and putting up with their limit of ten free reads a week;
- If enough people don’t pay for a reasonable service like this, newspapers are going to die. We lost a lot of good journos last week when the SMH accepted voluntary redundancies. It costs an enormous amount to deliver the “free” newspaper we all read on the Net, and if those costs aren’t covered, then ultimately newspapers will become shadows of their former selves. We would all be the poorer for that.Whatever some people think of the “Mainstream media”, I’d rather have it than not.
- Feeling better about yourself. I’ve been reading papers online now for at least ten years. I am so completely out of the habit of buying physical newspapers that I resile at the relatively minimal costs of buying one–even though I fork out for 2–6 times that much for caffeine every day. Now I can read the paper without feeling guilty about getting something that I know costs a great deal to deliver for free.
I have been hoping for ages that someone would perfect micropayments on the web, because the problem with old-fashioned commerce via the web is that it feels too expensive: why pay a cost based on the print media when there’s no print involved, and so on. A micropayment system (where you might pay a cent for each article you read) seemed the way to go, but no-one has developed it, and maybe it will never happen.
So the SMH’s idea is a good compromise in that direction, and I hope they extend it (at a higher price) to the general public.
If you’re an academic in Sydney (or student, for whom it’s half that price) and you regularly read the SMH online, then sign up for the deal. And if you live elsewhere, and if your local newspaper is something you read online, and they offer a similar deal, then consider it.