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Tuesday, 21 January 2020


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I had a digital subscription at regular price for the NY Times until I could no longer afford it. Then they asked if I could afford... $4 a mo- yeah, I could definitely do that!

I fear losing legitimate, investigative news sources, but I'll probably have to drop the subscription if (when) the price rises substantially. They need to devise other subscription/payment scenarios- perhaps based on amount of usage/articles per month...

Music and Cinema solved their piracy problem by developing solutions which made it much more convenient to pay than to not pay. It is absolutely frictionless to watch virtually any movie I want, right now, for a very small fee.

It's not clear that this solution is available to photography, because stealing is just so easy.

News? I dunno. Maybe they could do some sort of bundling service, like a media streaming service, but for news. One modest flat fee, and you get all you can eat from a convenient, well-organized, ad-free, buffet of news.

Years ago a friend ran a small local newspaper and explained to me that the vast majority of his income came from advertising revenue and not subscriptions. I don't know if this still holds true in the internet age, but it's why I never get offended when I'm peppered with ads while visiting free websites whose content I like. If it takes more ads to keep a good site up, then I'm all for it. Maybe more ads, or optional ads, is the systemic solution you're looking for. BTW, I do NOT work in marketing or advertising!

When even MAJOR cities often have only one or two newspapers, I'm afraid we're well into eating the last 30%.

A "pay per click" model perhaps? Few cents at a time?

The paywall problem is because the credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, Amex) have done everything in their power to prevent an efficient and effective micropayment system, such that you could easily pay for one article at a reasonable price.

In the old days, libraries would subscribe to newspapers and magazines and you did research by going there. Funny that the concept hasn't translated to the interweb in some useful manner. I have no idea how but it seems to me that online library subscriptions might be a model worth looking at. I've given this all of 2 minutes thought that's probably what it's worth.

We had better fix this soon, because it's a cesspool out there.

Something akin to that is happening in online streaming services. You might have to subscribe to several of them to get access to the shows you'd like. An aggregator would be a useful service but at the moment they're all acting a little proprietary. In the early days of movies, did the studios maintain their own theatres in which you could only see their own branded films?

It may all be moot soon. Disney will own all of it.

Staying away from swamps and journalism:

"Their reasons for doing what they did were sound, but the overall effect was a negative one: they limited their own publicity and effectively "walled off" their work from the online audience."

Are you writing about about money, or about fame?

Success seems to be measured by "better known", and the losers are "previously famous".

And yet, one of these losers would ". . . drop off his portfolio at museums and work toward gallery shows and try to get his pictures published in art books"

And the other, ". . . explained that his photographs were his livelihood . . ."

May I assume that they made their livings from photography?

Do we know if those who '"grew followers" and began to become better known.', make a living at it?

I'm not saying you are wrong about any of what you say, but I am suggesting that you may have confabulated two related, but separate subjects.

I have no dog in this altercation. I am sure that I am a good enough photographer to make money at it. I have no doubt that professional photography is a business, and quite unlike my amateur status, where I shoot what I want and present it as I like.

I also suspect that fame is a seriously mixed blessing I can live without.

"Fame and Fortune" have always struck me as poor bedfellows. You take Fame, I'll take Fortune.

I share your frustration. Surely it would not be beyond the capabilities of those news papers to allow one buy one issue only

"I suspect that the diminution and decline of our media could be described along the same lines as wetlands: the first 30% we can let go; the middle 40% we can talk about, and pick and choose; but the last 30% are absolutely crucial to functioning Democracies, to civil society, and the informing of a well-educated populace."

I think that all of it is vital, the bit you didn't mention is the shared history and competence that is also known as "maintenance".

Here in England a couple of years back, there were massive areas of wetland that were flooded to the point of destruction during heavy and persistent rain.

How could this be? There were old stories, but it was otherwise unheard of.

Then we discover that a government quango (that is an undemocratic government decision maker), has decided that it is more qualified to manage those wetlands than the farmers and landowners, who have been learning from previous generations since the Dutch sent us some experts in the 1200's.

And the floods were an inevitable result, those wetlands are no longer what they were.

Ignorance is bliss.

A thoughtful and appropriate essay. Are we about to enter the dark ages of truth, approaching that last 30%?

This reminds me of a PetaPixel interview with Tina Barney five years ago. The complete interview is worth reading, but at two thirds of the article, under the picture of children with an American flag PP asked her about her website. She answered that she had nothing to do with it and that some pictures in it were not even hers. According to Barney: ”…one is a Larry Sultan, one would be Phillip Lorca-Dicorcia.”

I have been working in the paper industry most of my life. Traditional newspapers and magazines were paid by advertising. The cost of paper alone was more than the subscription price. Printing and distribution were expensive as well, leaving nothing for content. Except advertisements. Big circulation and big readership = lots of advertising, lot of good content and lot of readers wanting that good content. When free news started to come available from the World Wide Web, newspapers tried in vain to hold on to their old model and charge money for subscriptions. They lost readers, lost advertisers and became smaller and less interesting, losing even more readers. Only now some are starting to realise that the answer is the same as before, get the money from advertisements. And now you don’t even need to pay for the paper, printing and distribution, and your market is world-wide.

"content to be available but supported, and not behind walls" That's what online ads accomplish for companies like Facebook and Google. You pay for an excellent search engine by exposing yourself to ads. That's the old model used by TV. You also pay by allowing some gathering of personal information that helps the advertisers be more effective in showing you ads you're likely to respond to. The loss of privacy involved is a cost to you, but it supports the otherwise free content and services. There's another model that's been proposed, but doesn't seem to have gained much traction: micropayments. You might not want to pay for a subscription to a site, but might well be willing to pay a few cents for access to a specific article. I'd be really happy if the micropayment model were more prevalent, but I don't control the web.

There is such a solution. It’s called a library. Obsolete idea to many minds, but they still exist. Subscriptions to periodicals, neatly shelved or filed and available for use at no charge. Knowledgeable assistance from skilled reference staff (at no charge) in sorting through the available deluge of information to find sources most on-target and credible.

Many of the larger, well-funded ones provide remote access, online, to extensive databases of paid periodicals including specialized publications which never would have been made available in print locally because of high cost and low-to-no demand.

Marvelous idea, libraries. The trend in many places has been to shut them down as unnecessary, a waste of taxpayers’ money.

A certain photography magazine of very long standing has, I regret to say, gone downhill in recent years. It's boring to read, and most photos are printed at no more than 6 x 4 inches, often at only half those dimensions. The cover photo might as well not be there, covered as it is with text in an effort to make you pick up the magazine. Years ago the cover photo was what first tempted me to pick up this photo magazine.

Their website is no longer a place I can rely on to get news from, and to read most of the equipment reviews and articles I have to join their mailing list. I see no advantage in that.

A photo magazine should make a reader want to grab their camera and take some photos, or at least plan to try something new. This can't be done with photos printed too small to be appreciated, and dull uninspiring text.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both print and digital, but they don't capitalise on either. I think the magazine will be gone within five years. It will be a real shame.

There are still some traditional newspapers without a paywall. The Guardian is entirely free (some fairly unobtrusive ads) though you can donate any amount or subscribe (which removes the ads) and has U.K., US, Australian and International editions:

Not quite wiki-news but close enough https://theconversation.com/global

And https://www.propublica.org/

Another way to cross the paywall barrier (in addition to libraries, mentioned above) is to use the freelancer’s low cost version of Lexis/Nexis for searching periodicals. It costs $19.95 a month, sold only on an annual contract, but gives you the same service as that enjoyed by reporters for the New York Times — minus the legal search and public documents of Lexis.

For a freelancer needing broad reach research it should be invaluable. Take my Patreon contribution and that of nine other equally miserly benefactors and subscribe to it. See if it fits.

The subscription is available not through Lexis/Nexis directly, but via a nonprofit to be found at expertaccess.org. And yes, I confirmed with Lexis/Nexis that it is legit.

To employ a formerly overused phrase, the media has gone and continues to go through a huge paradigm shift. The problem is that no one yet knows what the new paradigm will be!

Art Sinsabaugh's ginormous banquet camera is the most impressive such gadget I've ever seen!

Art Sinsabaugh's camera

Personally, I've no interest in using any camera that's too large to carry over my shoulder, that might catch fire, or that might be attacked by insects.

Many good comments. Amazon (AWS) seems to have micro-payments down. I pay $0.60 to host some scans there.

Local newspapers had their place. But did everyone benefit? Discrimination against minorities and women flourished. In whose interest did those local newspapers work? Priests raped children for decades. What did the local papers do about that? Redlining prevented a generation or two of minorities from accumulating wealth. Ah, the good old days when they knew their place!

I don't know why I'm writing since nothing I've written has ever been posted on your site.


[See, you shouldn't say things like that last, because I have records at my fingertips. Actually, you have submitted 168 comments to TOP, and all save eight have been published--and several that weren't published were simply private asides, for example on June 14, 2017, when you informed me that a link wasn't working. Several of your comments have been "Featured Comments," for example on the post "God Bless Us Every One" from Dec. 22, 2010. --Mike]

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