Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Truth Is Paywalled but the Lies Are Free

One more to make a hat trick of commentary about media income strategies and related topics. Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs:

Paywalls are justified, even though they are annoying. It costs money to produce good writing, to run a website, to license photographs. A lot of money, if you want quality. Asking people for a fee to access content is therefore very reasonable. You don’t expect to get a print subscription to the newspaper gratis, why would a website be different? I try not to grumble about having to pay for online content, because I run a magazine and I know how difficult it is to pay writers what they deserve.

But let us also notice something: the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Republic, New York, Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and the London Times all have paywalls. Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Wire, the Federalist, the Washington Examiner, InfoWars: free!

Robinson points to academic journals and the U.S. Courts system as more examples of places where getting accurate information costs money. But I will note that you can go to YouTube and watch a conspiracy-minded grifter explain these documents badly for free. It is true that there are also people and organizations out there that offer honest work for free. But the stratification of access to knowledge makes it far less likely that anyone will read source materials that cost money when they are able to get a diluted version that rewards their biases for free.