I’ve done something I haven’t done for a long time. I’ve bought a newspaper. It must be fifteen years or so since I last bought one and this was around the time when online news was starting to take off seriously. This isn’t the reason I stopped however.
I had been reading a copy of the Sunday Times, a local paper, when I read the opinion column which slagged off those working in the public sector. At the time I was working there too and I remember thinking why am I paying money for someone else’s opinion I don’t value. I vowed then to stop buying printed news.
I am not the only one. Circulation of newspapers over the same period have plummeted though I understand that there has been a resurgence. The Guardian Media Group, for example, is now back in profit after years of losses.
Since then I have made do with getting my news online only to become increasingly bombarded with fake news and click bait. Opinion and comment are very cheap and there is plenty of it around (from me included). Algorithms increasingly focus what I see based upon what they think appeals to me. I am finding it hard to get a balanced view.
Why then have I finally changed my mind? There are a number of reasons yet what really promoted my about face, mu u-turn, was because I have just read the book ‘The People vs Tech’ by Jamie Bartlett. In it he reminded me that a free press with strong journalistic principles is a fundamental requirement of a function democracy. Quality journalism is not cheap and sorely lacking in our printed media at times. If however, printed media disappears then there will be even fewer serious and professional journalists about. It is necessary, therefore to pay for papers to exist.
I bought the Independent, because it was the first one that I came to and I intend to buy others over the coming weeks, including those that I would rather not. It is easy to judge something from afar and it is dangerous to only hear one opinion and so I will persevere.
How did I get on? There were some very good articles and others less so, yet it was good value for the pound I spent.
I wonder which one I will come across next?