I have mixed feelings about The Toronto Star’s introduction of a paywall. As a communications student, I’m constantly wired into my favourite publications through Twitter and news applications. It’s ritualistic. My phone lies next to my pillow while I sleep, and when my deafening alarm goes off in the morning, I scroll through my Twitter feed to find out what happened to the world while I was snoozing.
As a print fanatic, even I have to admit that the delicate pages of my beloved newspapers no longer hold up to the constant hum of online forums and venues for exchanging information. Comment reels, citizen journalism on blogs, and real-time tweets break news faster than most publications. Insomnia is the unwritten job requirement in modern journalism. Rest for even a moment, and you could miss the latest update.
Each week, I prepare for my communications and journalism courses not by reading textbooks but by perusing the home pages of The Globe and Mail and The New York Times. You could cut off my right arm before you could cut me off from news sources.
It was this side of me that felt a pang of sorrow when I found out that The Toronto Star, along with many other North American newspapers, will soon give only a limited amount of information for free. Once you hit that barrier or limit, you’ll have to pay for an online subscription.
On the other hand, I have our own newspaper to worry about. The same question always arises: How can The Medium engage more students? How can we expand beyond print and find our niche among the abundance of online media?
Newspapers generate the majority of their revenue from advertisement sales and customer fees—or, in our case, a levy from student tuition. With print advertisement sales in decline, newspapers are looking far and wide for any possible way to bring in some revenues.
Quality research and reporting come at a high price. With costs increasing every year and revenue decreasing, the journalist in me sympathizes with major newspapers. I considered purchasing a few online subscriptions, but my meagre student paycheque can’t support very many.
Should I limit myself to only a few news sources? If I did, I’d be missing out on diverse viewpoints and sources of information.
While I can’t say whether paywalls will be successful, I anticipate that readership will rise for local newspapers like Metro and 24 Hours. That’s also where The Medium comes in.
This year is about exploring venues The Medium has missed in the past. UTM grows and becomes more vibrant each year, and there’s no reason The Medium shouldn’t grow along with the campus. This special feature issue represents one way I hope students will engage with their newspaper.
Our office doors are open and we welcome creativity. There are more ways to get involved now than ever before, both in our print and online versions.
And no, The Medium won’t introduce a paywall. You already pay for our services through your tuition fees. Come and see what we do with that much-appreciated funding.