One of the first things I did when lockdown started was to pay for a subscription to the FT. I was no longer commuting so I wanted to make sure that I read some business news first thing every day (I used to flick through the very underrated CityAM every day on the tube). I had been meaning to subscribe to the FT for ages, and this was the trigger that pushed me to start paying.
But actually I pay for a lot of news — I buy the FT and the Guardian every Saturday, I buy Private Eye every fortnight (their medical correspondent ‘MD’ has written the best analysis of Covid-19, I think), and have subscriptions to get physical copies of both Courier (new brands, and start-up stuff), and Strong Words (books), reflecting my interests.
I have also taken out a subscription to Benedict Evans’ new, more detailed, version of his newsletter, because it’s one newsletter I always read, and click on most of the links (his Mailchimp stats must be insane…), and also good for him for having the confidence in it to know that people will pay.
I also support a couple of independent publications through Patreon — Pellicle, a new online magazine about beer, and Vittles, a newsletter for food writing. In both cases because they reflect my interests and I (vaguely) know the people behind them.
(I’m sure there is lots of research to be done on the psychology of paying to things like Patreon and individual newsletters vs paying for established news brands)
Why am I doing this, and why am I writing this? I think that it is really important to pay for quality and to support the people who produce this quality. The Guardian announced cuts in the last couple of days because they are losing money due to the pandemic (I support them both by buying the paper once a week and also through an annual donation).
I also pay because I’ve seen the alternative. I’m still a member of lots of local WhatsApp groups I joined in March, and some are a breeding ground for the worst sort of rumours, urban myths and fake news (which I always try to debunk — I’m their ‘Reply Guy’, I suppose). I don’t think that this is the only alternative to our current media, but it’s a shocking example of what it might become.
This weekend please buy a newspaper or a magazine, take out a subscription, and support people on Patreon. Enrich your life and other people’s!