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News is like a donut

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July 14th, 2015 Don Packett

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Apparently, during World War II, the Red Cross had comfort stations for US soldiers overseas, with free coffee and free doughnuts. Then, in 1942, the Red Cross started charging for the doughnuts. The reason they started charging was simple: The U.S. Secretary of War asked it to. British soldiers had to pay for their comfort station snacks, and the free doughnuts for Americans were causing tensions between the two allies. After a vigorous protest, the Red Cross finally agreed to comply with the request. And they have regretted it ever since.

For most of the last 70 years, Red Cross doughnuts have remained free — but, believe it or not, many veterans haven’t forgotten. Professor Uri Simonsohn at the University of Pennsylvania calls it categorical change. The problem isn’t the price. We are all accustomed to price changes.

Before the rise of the almighty Internet, news had to be purchased. Whether by newspaper or having a TV License subscription. Now, it’s all free. Websites, apps, all news is at our disposal, and we expect it all for free. With the mentality of preferring to pay for print media – with the sense of them actually getting something tangible – this leaves creators of news in a bit of a pickle. Because, quite honestly, the people who prefer to buy newspapers are declining, and the people who feel that news should be free are starting to outweigh the former.

This sucks for people in the industry. The more free news people want, the less money there is for the people who actually go out there and get it.

My suggestion: A global agreement for all creators of news to charge for all mediums. Print, mobile, desktop, you name it.

A very simple, yet effective, comparison would be to look at your current job right now. If you deliver any sort of output – whether mentally or physically – and consider doing this for free. For anyone to use. For free. You could potentially get some sponsors to help out – and they get some advertising on whatever you deliver – but that means more work for you, just to give free stuff to people you’ve never met, and expect your services for free.

Now that doesn’t seem fair, does it?

*Previously posted to our 21Tanks blog

Posted by Don Packett

Leader of my Free World • MC • Comedian • Legacy-buster • Eco-lover • Bird-chaser • Wannabe farmer • Curator of doideas.org

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