Paying for the News

Imagine one was studying economics and came across highly recommended books on the topic. The books came recommended by famous experts and claimed to be written with no bias. The books are given away free or at some nominal price.

Then out of every ten pages, three or four and sometimes more were Ads. Ads paid for by government agencies, corporate houses and political parties. The experts who wrote these books on law were themselves working for government agencies, corporate houses and/or associated or part of political parties.

Would you expect such books to be useful or valuable? I would probably hear an emphatic “NO”.

Yet, this is exactly how we consume the News. Almost all the News we consume is provided free or something close to free.

Yet, we do not complain and sometimes even carry out self-deception in the toasting our existence in the golden age (or should it be cage?) of “Content is free” and “Customer is King”.

But I think only one of those statements stands true. Content is free is almost always not a fact. The content is actually paid for – mostly by government agencies, corporate houses and political parties.

But the second statement, that of “Customer is king” is accurate. Just that the customer is not the one who is consuming the News. Who are they? Probably government agencies, corporate houses and political parties.

Maybe its time to embrace the term “paid media” – but paid for by consumer itself.

Join the Conversation


    1. @Fem: Not necessarily. The examples of Democracy Now and to some extent BBC and PBS show that a public that consumes the media can also largely pay for it (via taxes). Even in India, I am not surprised that the best debates and discussions that actually happen on TV -are often on Doordarshan’s Rajya Sabha TV.


      1. Ah, I was thinking you meant premium news channels which charge for subscriptions and increasing the price of newspapers.


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