In the introductory video provided by Lisa, Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen talk through the importance of open access specifically in the world of academic journals.
I’m going to take a slightly new angle on the concept of ‘free access’ online, and assess where it stands in the world of the press in today’s society.
The rapid growth of the Internet has brought with it the huge opportunity for information to be shared and viewed at any time, meaning that people can remain constantly up-to-date with the news.
This means that people are better informed, and more engaged in what is going on in the world.
But what people may be forgetting is that this journalistic content does not produce itself.
As Edmund Lee stated in 2013: “In the early days of the Internet […] traditional newspaper publishers essentially gave away their expensive-to-create content for free”. The concept of “information wants to be free” held strong, and news outlets made their content freely accessible.
However, Lee continues: “Today, the weakened industry’s survivors seem determined to get readers to pay up and they’re busily erecting electronic paywalls around their news and entertainment to make sure that happens”.
The fact of the matter is that decent journalism is “expensive-to-create”. While initially, enough profits would be made from advertising, with the continuing growth of the Internet, these advertisers have now begin to flock to cheaper rivals such as Google and Facebook, meaning many newspapers have found themselves struggling to find the means to produce good content and turned to charging their readers.
Indeed, Peter Marsh states that nearly three out of four newspapers surveyed in a poll of 45 global newspaper companies (73%) are currently charging readers to access online content.
Evening Standard’s group content director, Chris Blackhurst, explains in this video how he believes that it is inevitable that all online news content will soon go behind a paywall.
But crucially, if all newspapers were to establish a paywall and readers were to pick their paper/s and stick to them, wouldn’t online journalism lose what is unique about it: that free-flowing, ever-changing, multi-dimensional quality that Katharine Viner discusses in this video?
I find this question on the availability of online newspaper content extremely interesting and can see both sides of the argument. I look forward to delving into the matter further over the coming week and hope to come to a more informed conclusion by next Sunday.