Wouldn’t that be great?
Many high end newspapers charge something like $10 a month to subscribe, just to the digital edition. But most people who use digital editions of newspapers scan several, pick and chose what to read, and end up reading them all for free because they don’t reach the limit of number of articles provided to a certain web browser per month.
But sometimes, one runs into that limit and suddenly can’t access articles for the last several days of the month. This hurts readers. (In some cases it hurts the papers. There are a half dozen items in the Washington Post right now that I’d like to blog about, sending thousands of readers to that paper, but I cant’ because I ran out of freebies early. Or they got stricter. Not sure.)
One can get around this by clearing cookies, switching web browsers, switching computers, etc. But this is unethical and defeatist in two ways. First, the writers and other staff actually do have valuable paid jobs, and ripping off the paper is ripping them off. Second, related but at a different scale, these are companies that may annoy us in various ways, but that we actually want to exist.
Due to new media and other considerations, newspapers, which may often be annoying but are still important, are facing an existential crisis. They have to make some money somehow. It simply is not true, though this philosophy arose during those heady days of the Time of Napster, that IF something can be downloaded from the internet, by any means, it IS therefore free, and any attempt to charge for it is IMMORAL.
One can also get around this by subscribing to the damn newspapers! And, if you have a fave, and that is the paper you generally read, do that!
But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the user scenario where several newspapers, not one, are roughly equally important to someone. For me, it is the Star Tribune, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and some subset of papers from Saint Paul, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, and London. This is because I read and write about topics that are covered by all these papers. I do this to write a blog that does not make me enough money to subscribe to half dozen papers to the tune of $600. But, for personal pleasure and blogginess, I’d pay ten or even 18 bucks a month for a service that gave me all of this, or a choice of several.
So, I have a proposal, which is embodied in the headline of this post.
Netflix for Newspapers
Not necessarily run by Netflix, not necessarily restricted to newspapers. But mainly a paid monthly subscription to … to what? To all the newspapers? To your choice of six? To your choice of X for Y dollars, where the incremental increase per X of Y decreases until a point where you get them all for a hefty but not absurd cost, but allowing regular people to have easy access to, say, a half dozen or so of their favorites for the current cost of one or two subscriptions? Something?
Am I missing something? Is there already something like this out there? I doubt it, because if there was, someone would have tried to sell it to me by now. Why does this not exist? Can someone please arrange for this to exist?
Would you want this?