Why paying helps bring you the news

Kate Fielding – Sound Telegraph EditorSound Telegraph
Online readers have vented their frustration over paywall content.
Camera IconOnline readers have vented their frustration over paywall content. Credit: Illustration, Don Lindsay / The West Australian

Most of the Sound Telegraph’s online readers would have noticed by now that some of its content is going behind a paywall.

It is a move that has frustrated some readers who have been pretty quick to threaten the Telegraph with the dreaded click of the “unfollow” button on social media.

That choice is ultimately at the fingertips — quite literally — of our usually loyal readers, but I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some misguided beliefs before any rash decisions might be made.

One common comment is “why bother posting something we can’t read”.

This is in fact untrue.

An individual can still read the select few stories going behind the paywall, they just need to shell out on a subscription.

It is a small price to pay, really, for access to a raft of content across Seven West Media’s mastheads, and probably most importantly to the Telegraph’s readers, local news as it happens.

The second most frequent comment the Telegraph is seeing is something along the lines of “you’re getting lazy and re-posting stories from The West Australian”.

This is again, untrue.

The Sound Telegraph is a Seven West Media publication that shares stories across the State.

Most stories being shared on the Telegraph’s social media platforms are written by young journalists based — and working hard — in Rockingham.

The Telegraph does share some stories from our friends up the road at The West, but more often than not these are matters that we believe our readers will enjoy and can relate to.

Putting content behind a paywall is a global trend that has been gaining momentum in a world that more and more craves online content, that is mostly free.

It is no secret that advertising revenue is in decline, thanks largely to social media, but bills and journalists — like any person who has a job — still need to be paid.

So. What separates much of the online dribble from quality newspapers is the reliability of what is being written.

Journalists are qualified professionals — who, mind you, more likely than not got to where they are by paying out of their own pocket for a degree — trained to deliver balanced and accurate stories that their readers deserve to know about.

They are held to account and ultimately hold those in power to account, for the benefit of the general public.

I also want to let you in on a little secret. Journalists do not get paid a hell of a lot of money.

Proving we do what we do, because we are passionate about it.

Like coffee lovers pay for their daily caffeine fix – a cost passed onto consumers because it costs café's money to produce a good cup of Joe – why can’t it be the same for local news?

It is disappointing to see the number of readers that feel entitled to access the content we have worked so hard for without paying for it.

Kate Fielding is editor of the Sound Telegraph. You can contact her at kate.fielding@soundtelegraph.com.au

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