Don’t get me wrong: I love getting the Times for free, and I think their website is amazing, an invaluable source of information for recent history. Check out this page on the history of same-sex marriage, for example. You can type any number of topics into the Times search engine and come out with a summary and links to 20 years worth of articles, and current web resources, which have been researched and vetted by Times staffers.
In a perfect world, all information would be free. Unfortunately, we live in this world, where free access means killing off the institutions we need to remain an informed citizenry, and I can’t afford a vacation in Hawaii. It stinks, but that’s how it is. We need to understand when we have to suck it up and accept our choices as they are today. If I recall correctly, refusing to understand such choices is what saddled us with George W. Bush as president (and yes, I am still bitterly angry an almost-decade later at everyone who voted for Nader. You know who you are, asshats.).
True, the Times, and other newspapers have dropped the ball on major stories. Some of their columnists are Iraq-war supporting right-wing nut jobs. But papers like the Times, and the Washington Post and the LA Times, remain the best sources of information. Despite shortfalls, they’ve done some stellar work.
We can’t live without the mainstream media in the United States, despite its flaws. So join me in encouraging the Times to start charging us. The vast majority of people who read these papers can afford to pay a minimal amount for an online subscription.
I don’t want their Baghdad bureau to close, and neither do you.