WHY I AM A JOURNALIST Part 2: The bill is coming due
The old journalism business model is broken.
The license to print money that was classified ads, the special access to influential people and the monopoly on public information have all been democratized by information technology. Nonetheless, someone still has to go out and look people in the eye and talk to them. And the reader has to pay, rather than continually stiffing the server.
Skimming the news for free on your phone may pass the time at a red light, but it's the moral equivalent of walking out of a coffee shop with 13 sugar packets.
Journalism in this town is emaciated compared to the good old days (1900-2000), but it still has a beating heart. My brothers and sisters (and nonbinary peers) at Willamette Week, The Oregonian/OregonLive, the Portland Business Journal, and the Portland Mercury all do a fantastic job of interviewing Portlanders and making them feel seen and heard, in a way no national news outlet or software bot could.
However, readers will have to start paying for it. People pay for Netflix and Spotify, for NYT Cooking and Masterclass, but they are not yet in the habit of paying to know what their mayor thinks or which school won the varsity basketball game. It's time to get in that habit.
At Pamplin Media, we are asking for readers to subscribe to our publications, and/or donate to our matching fund for our special coverage of COVID-19 (the pandemic you will one day tell your grandkids about if you can get them away from their brain chip implants long enough to listen).
People love to hate on my industry by throwing around the term "fake news," as though a botched quote or unconscious bias were on the same level as a completely fabricated article on a made-up website as part of a disinformation campaign. Just remember the "Denver Guardian" the next time your friend's cousin posts a conspiracy theory video on Facebook without running it by Snopes first. (Plandemic? Hmmm, interesting!)
Why not think of news as a utility, like drinking water? Do you want to turn on your tap and get Portland's Bull Run or Flint's leaden gunk? Is clean news, like clean water, worth paying for?
I do this job because I love interviewing people and putting ideas, facts and feelings into words. My colleagues and I are privileged to work for a reputable news outlet that is dedicated to all Portlanders. But we can't do it if no one pays to read what we write. That's why we are asking you to subscribe to the Pamplin Media news outlets. Pick one of the 24, or all of them. It doesn't matter which.
The bill is coming due.
Joseph Gallivan has been a reporter for nearly 30 years and is the author of two books.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.