Why Readers Should Start Paying for their Content — And Will One Day

I was going back and forth a bit with a friend of mine who’s a writer. We were talking about a media site neither of us read and agree hosts sub-par content.

But here’s the problem, that company doesn’t care about what we think, because we’re not its customer. In fact, none of its readers are. Rather, we are the product — and that site sells us, the audience, to the real customer: advertisers.

Its product is “x million page views/month of adults between ages X-Y, and of Z gender.” It makes sure to publish content not so obscene that high paying advertisers can feel okay about establishing brand association — but we the readers have really screwed ourselves.

Because we’re not willing to pay for content anymore, we’ve lost control of the content we’re given. The content is in the control of the customer, and we’re no longer the customer.

It’s our fault. We can complain all we want about how bad the news has become, but we are the cause.

I don’t think we’re ready to start paying yet—we’re not at the tipping point still. It might take some extreme circumstances before we are — but I can’t wait for that moment. Here’s to being fed up with reading content produced for advertisers and not the readers.

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