The state of Seattle journalism, as the Times puts up a paywall

Feb 24, 2013, 4:13 PM | Updated: Feb 25, 2013, 12:52 pm
The Seattle Times announced “digital subscriptions” are needed to support quality journ...
The Seattle Times announced "digital subscriptions" are needed to support quality journalism. In mid-March, the news organization will put up a paywall. Subscribers will continue to have unrestricted access online. Other users will have to pay. (Linda Thomas photo)
(Linda Thomas photo)
LISTEN:

Most people don’t want to pay for news online. Many people don’t trust the media. And, by the way, everybody is a journalist.

Saying, “You get what you pay for,” The Seattle Times is challenging the first assumption, while a local news council is asking journalists to step up their games to win back public trust.

In a column in The Seattle Times Sunday, the news organization announced it will begin charging those who don’t subscribe to their newspaper but want to read their stories online.

“Of course, we realize that nobody likes having to pay for something they’ve been receiving for free,” writes David Boardman, executive editor for the Times. “But we believe that if you stop for just a moment to contemplate how important The Times is to the vitality and civility of the Puget Sound region, you might even feel good about your contribution to sustaining the content you value.”

Boardman referred to the paywall as “digital subscriptions.”

Those subscriptions to the SeattleTimes.com will be available at no extra charge to existing and new print subscribers and will give users access to the newspaper’s smartphone and tablet apps.

Readers who don’t subscribe will still be able to access the online content on a limited basis, after a few stories you’ll have to pay.

How much? A Times spokeswoman later stated there will be an introductory offer of 99-cents per week for four weeks. The regular pricing will be $3.99 per week.

There are hundreds of reader reactions posted in the comments section of Boardman’s column.

“I’m starved for objective and untargeted news and I’m not sure where to go. I have had that feeling for a very long time. I’m certain that registering my name, address and credit card for a subscription is not going to help me in my quest,” writes one reader from Federal Way.

“You would have to pry money from my cold dead hands to pay for a Seattle Times subscription,” says another reader.

“Pay for this crap? Good luck.”

The Times is not alone with its skeptical news consumers.

The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer puts the media as a whole third from the bottom among institutions. That’s down there with banks and financial institutions.

“That’s consistent with Gallup, which found 60 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fully, accurately and fairly,” says John Hamer. “That’s disturbing.”

Hamer, who was a Seattle Times editorial writer many years ago, founded the Washington News Council in 1998.

“A lot of citizens in this region really care about high quality, accurate, ethical, thorough, professional journalism,” says Hamer. “I spent 30 plus years as a journalist and thought maybe the profession was getting a little off track.”

His media watchdog organization is the only one that still exists in the United States. Has it made a difference?

“Maybe a little,” he admits. “You pick your battle and try to move the needle a little bit.”

Hamer’s latest effort is called the Tao of Journalism. He’s encouraging student and professional journalists to abide by its simple concepts of Transparency, Accountability, and Openness.

He believes journalism has been damaged by the “pretense of objectivity.”

“So many journalists for so long have pretended that they have no views – the view from nowhere. ‘Oh no, no, no, no, no I don’t have any opinions on anything. I’m totally neutral. I can be totally objective,’ well baloney,” he says.

Journalists should still be even handed, but the line between news an opinion has blurred so much that he believes news people need to be more upfront about their opinions so the reader, viewer and listener can better judge the information they’re receiving.

On the issue of accountability, Hamer says it’s quite simple. Journalists need to admit when they’ve made factual errors and apologize for them.

“Show a little humility. The words humility and journalist seldom appear in the same sentence, let’s face it this is an ego centric profession,” Hamer says.

Openness involves giving other points of view opportunity to express their perspectives. It also includes engaging in open, public dialogue through comments. I’ve always been a supporter of your ability to comment anonymously on this blog, and I do consider your feedback.

Hamer believes these standards should apply to anyone – with or without a journalism degree – who presents news in any form.

“We’re all journalists now,” he says. “You can start your own website or blog. Facebook could be considered journalism when you’re posting stuff to your friends. People trust what they get from their friends maybe more than the traditional media sources.”

“That’s the big question,” he asks. “Who do you trust?”

By LINDA THOMAS

You might also be interested in:

Ross and Burbank: In defense of the Seattle Times charging for online access

Uncategorized

Sounder train...
MyNorthwest Staff

Sounder trains canceled between Seattle and Everett for landslide

Sound Transit has canceled Sounder N Line service between Seattle and Everett until Thursday due to a landslide that has covered the tracks.
18 days ago
Seattle garbage...
MyNorthwest Staff

Garbage, recycling pickup resumes for Seattle area

Garbage and recycling pickup resumes in Seattle after last week's snowstorm.
19 days ago
snow...
MyNorthwest Staff

Monday commuters to face icy roads across Puget Sound region

Freezing temperatures have settled in over Western Washington after a day of several inches of snow for most locations, creating an ice rink for commuters on Monday morning. 
27 days ago
Ferry cancellations...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Washington State Ferries announce alternate Sunday schedules

Due to severe crewing shortages, the Washington State Ferries announced plans to operate an alternate service schedule on Sunday.
3 months ago
President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19 vaccinations. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)...
Alex Overall

Todd Herman Show Notes: 10.8.2021

Read and Catch up on the latest show notes brought to you by the Todd Herman Show on AM 770 KTTH
4 months ago
This image released by National Geographic shows Dr. Anthony Fauci at the NIH in Bethesda, Md., dur...
Alex Overall

Todd Herman Show Notes: 9.21.2021

Read and Watch the latest sources and news media related to the Todd Herman Show on AM 770 KTTH.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
The state of Seattle journalism, as the Times puts up a paywall