I worked in journalism for 40 years and am an avid reader and follower of current events. And yet I don’t subscribe to any newspapers or magazines.
Part of the reason is our lifestyle of radical frugality, in which we try to de-emphasize buying things. (Or should I call it being cheap?) Another reason, with respect to magazines, is that they tend to clutter up our living room, our consciousness, and our to-do lists. But I always have plenty to read and have no trouble keeping up with both national, world and local events.
In the past, we have subscribed to Newsweek, Organic Gardening, UTNE Reader, Mother Earth News, The Economist, The Week and Smithsonian (the last three as gifts). I still enjoy looking at some of these magazines, but find that it’s easy to read them in the library. Betsy subscribes to two magazines, Permaculture Magazine and Permaculture Activist.
I don’t subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where I worked for 32 years, but read all the Amherst news. It’s easy to get around the web site’s pay wall by picking out some words in a story I’m interested in and googling them. Or, I can read the same stories in the weekly Amherst Bulletin, or in the week-old Gazettes my sister-in-law kindly brings over (along with the Sunday Boston Globes). There are always a lot of newspapers in our house, even though we don’t spend any money on them.
I do pay $15 a month for a digital subscription to The New York Times. I check it out every day and enjoy the excellent writing and reporting, but I’m reconsidering even this small expense. While out running on Tuesday, our neighborhood’s recycling day, I noticed a full week of the New York Times sitting near the street in a recycling bin, and so I grabbed them and took them home. I find it more aesthetically pleasing to read a newspaper in print than on line, though this has magnified our clutter problem!
I get a lot of my news from National Public Radio, and often adjust my schedule to listen to “On Point” every weekday at 10 a.m. I watch the BBC world news on television most nights at 6 p.m., but almost never watch American network news.
I suppose I’m contributing to the decline of print media, which provided my livelihood for most of my adult life, by declining to buy publications. Should I feel guilty about this? Is there something wrong about getting news for free?