The Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar: December 5

Every day in the leadup to Christmas, open the door to reveal a Spinoff writer’s short, sizzling commentary on a weighty subject. Our arbitrary and strictly enforced word limit: 365. Today: Alex Braae on why you should pay for journalism.

You’ve got enough stuff. Your cupboards are bulging with crap. But somehow you still have to find both Christmas gifts for other people, and also tell people what you want for Christmas.

What if there was a way to turn the orgy of spending and consumption that’s Christmas towards something good? I’m not talking about ethical consumerism, which is so often a sham. I’m talking about putting your money towards something that’ll actually benefit society.

I’m talking about the archaic concept of actually paying for journalism. Raise your hand if over the course of the last year you’ve ever complained about the quality of media being served up. Now keep that hand up if you haven’t spent a single dollar in that time on any actual journalism. And no, your tax dollars don’t count. If that’s you, here’s a readymade solution to that problem.

Newsrooms right now are under immense pressure. If you’ve been paying any attention whatsoever, you’ll know that there have been cutbacks at pretty much every major company. Because the money that once existed to fund journalism through advertising just doesn’t exist any more, and digital advertising hasn’t replaced it in any meaningful way.

The best journalism costs a lot of money. It takes time, legal vetting and editorial oversight. But it’s of immense public value. Without journalism, we’d probably still have people being kicked out of houses on the basis of dodgy meth tests, for example.

So subscribe your friends and family to the local paper. Get someone a magazine subscription to one of the many good New Zealand current affairs publications. Or if you don’t want to look smart by having those on your coffee table, get a digital subscription or put money into an investigative fund. We’ve got one of those at The Spinoff which has broken some difficult and costly stories this year.

A well-informed society isn’t inevitable, and it requires the public to actively and literally buy into it. And if you, a member of the public, don’t put money towards it, it’ll disappear. That’s simply the reality of where we’re at in 2018.

Read the Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar in full here


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