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A Plea For Open Information Borders

In the work that I do in media, as a voice at conferences and an advisor in major media companies, timely awareness of the news is critical. I think we can agree that now more than ever, that’s true for everyone.

I would like to ask/suggest/implore that, for the next 45-60 days, all online news outlets remove their paywalls. More than a 1/2 dozen times today, someone sent me, and all of us here, a link to a story that I must read immediately, only to get a “subscribe now to read this” pop-up.

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There is so much information that we, as a national community, need right now. At the same time, the ability to pay is being challenged for many, in some cases just by uncertainty.

So, To the NYT, WSJ, WP, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, National Review, The Economist and many others, here is the opportunity to get us ‘hooked’. We are all hungrier for trusted information than ever before in the age of the internet.

In 60 days, you can turn the toll booths back on. You will have a much larger and appreciative audience, now addicted and ready to pay.

Ted Cohen

Known in entertainment & tech as “part connector/part evangelist,” Ted Cohen is Head of Corporate Development at Mediatech Ventures. As SVP of EMI Music, Ted led Global Digital Business Development & was central in crafting the licensing agreements for the iTunes Store & Rhapsody/ Napster. Before EMI, He led Consulting Adults, whose clients included Universal, Amazon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola & Napster. He also held exec roles at WB Records & Philips Media. A 40 yr digital media vet, Ted received the 2013 NARM Presidential Award, previously given to Ahmet Ertegun & Dick Clark, among others. He continually seeks out the next innovative tech & his next challenge, he really loves his life.

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  1. As others have already noted, the New York Times has placed their coronavirus coverage, updated throughout the day, outside of the paywall. So has the Los Angeles Times. And I get most of my news from KPCC, 89.3 FM Pasadena—also thorough, non-paywall coverage.

    (I also donate or subscribe to these outlets because I’m in a position to do so.)

    Stay safe, everyone.

  2. I also see so many newspapers and outlets laying off staff due to the Coronavirus so if they don’t start getting more eyeballs, I am afraid more layoffs will ensue. I never understood why TV can be free and 100% supported by ads whereas newspapers cannot.

  3. Unless we are asking all industries to make their core products free, this feels like a really tough, unfair ask. Shouldn’t Spotify be free now, since we all need to be entertained at home? Why are we paying for groceries? We need to eat. Some sites have made their Covid coverage free, which is a noble effort for struggling companies—companies who, mind you, are about to be decimated by then impending recession. Those ad dollars which were already too hard to come by are about to completely dry up. I lived it once before as a publisher. If anything, I think more folks should be encouraging others to pick a publisher to support right now, if you feel the content is valuable enough to want to consume it.

  4. Totally agree. I have seen some paywalls open up for specific COVID related stories but in general they should just open up. NBA and NFL just did for their streams.

  5. I don’t listen to the media hype and prefer impartial facts. There’s a news site called Knowhere News that changed how I get news from day 1. None of the drama, opinion, etc… and just facts. No pushing buttons or inciting fear, or inciting trauma. It’s my first and often, only news source. Check it out: knowherenews.com/?referral_code=RO23TI07FHAA

  6. Ted, amen to that. Even though I pay for NYT I’m just about ready to remove all the news apps where bulk of stories have paywalls. Your solution is more elegant. Than again I heard someone say it’s all fake news anyway so maybe just read a good book! Be well, stay healthy – with love.

  7. h’mmm … don’t see it mentioned anywhere that the owner’s of these paywalls, unlike other businesses, are sheltering under constitutional protections of the public’s right to know stuff

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