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April Salchert Headshot

Technology Entitlement: Paying for Media

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Back when I lived in Chicago, I grew to know some local artists -- musicians to be specific. I watched them struggle to make ends meet so they could continue to create their art. And, I came to the conclusion, that if you truly appreciate an artist, you pay for their art.

Call me old-fashioned, I pay for my music -- on iTunes or I buy the CD. I have so many friends tell me: "Why would you pay for something when you can get it for free?"

Granted, there have been times when I have been tempted by this argument. Additionally, no one likes someone insisting people should pay for something that is available for free. I'm generally not very popular during this topic of conversation. You'll hear me harp on and on about the necessity of socialized, free health care, but yes, I know, I want people to pay for their music.

In the last couple decades, people have become more and more accustomed to getting what they want fast and without much effort. Technology has made so much accessible that most people under the age of 25 don't even remember what it's like to live without internet access, let alone a computer or cell phone.

Which turns me to this: Recently, my hometown's local newspaper, The Star Tribune, has decided to make the transition into charging for their online edition.

And I hear from the people back home, "Why would I pay for something I can get for free?"

Now, the music thing was always a bit of an ongoing argument that I never really defended in a strong way -- but now this hits a little closer to home for me.

My question: Why are you suddenly entitled to get something for free that you use to pay for?

I don't recall anyone demanding free newspapers back when people use to read an actual "paper." Just because it's no longer a solid product that lands outside your front door doesn't mean it didn't cost time, money and talent to be produced.

Yes, you can get free news elsewhere and paying for local news seems redundant if you can just hop on CNN.com. Paying a monthly fee for local news seems superfluous when much of the global economy is struggling.

And, switching back to the music media issue, the prices for music and DVD's are not exactly affordable for everyone -- but then why do we feel we should still have access to something we can't afford? I don't recall, when CD's first came out, feeling I'm entitled to own ALL of Dave Matthew's CD's immediately. No, I saved my money and bought them, one by one (yes, I have all of them). I didn't need the CD's, I wanted them.

That's the difference these days -- "want" is equal to "need." Entitlement.

So people want free newspapers, but do they need them? With the paperless world becoming the norm, what do people expect from newspapers? Those news articles didn't just create themselves; it took work to put them together. Why should we expect newspapers to live off of advertising revenue alone? Not every local newspaper can compete with FOX, CNN and BBC on the advertising market.

I guess as far as I'm concerned: If you are so oppose to paying for a local newspaper's online edition, turn on your television and watch the news -- oh yeah, but then I guess you better pay your cable bill.