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Opinion

Good news, bad news: Pay walls are here

Today the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published an article that I wanted to read, but when I clicked on it, I got a pop-up that said only daily-delivery subscribers can read it for free. Non-subscribers like me have to pay $9.99 a month.

The Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel , Tallahassee Democrat and Florida Today in Melbourne are all behind "pay walls" now. A couple of other newspapers in the state are planning to follow suit.

So those who want to read their original articles can no longer avoid paying for the privilege. Until now, only national newspapers -- The Wall Street Journal, where I used to work, and more recently The New York Times -- could get people to pay.

Will it work? Two online journalists I know who are a generation younger than I say it won't, that people their age group will boycott rather than pay.

HealthyState.org's current e-mail editor, Kimberly Vlach, said she'll stop linking to stories where readers would encounter a pay wall. But Florida Trend's Will Gorham says his magazine has decided to pay the subscription fees of $10 to $12 a month per publication.
 
That presents a problem when readers try to follow the links and are blocked. Obviously, readers will get frustrated; they won't want want to pay to subscribe to newspapers all over the state.

As a career journalist, I'm celebrating the change, even as I try to figure out how to adapt.

It's high time that newspapers began to protect their intellectual content from rip-off artists, to stop pretending that serious reporting can be done on the cheap. The result of that has been a drastic loss of daily coverage of the health-care industry, particularly the private side.

In fact, Health News Florida was founded over 5 years ago precisely because of the growing gaps in serious coverage of health issues. Few health reporters with experience are left now, and their beats aren't being filled. 

While we try to figure out how to cope with pay walls, we are currently trying to raise money to pay for reporting. Please make a generous tax-deductible donation today.

Our application for tax-deductible status is pending, so meanwhile the Health Foundation of South Florida is serving as our fiscal sponsor. Please make your tax-deductible donation, earmarked for Health News Florida, to:

Health Foundation of South Florida
Attention: Debra Johnson
One Biscayne Tower
2 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 1710
Miami, FL 33131


Thank you.


--Health News Florida is an independent online publication dedicated to journalism in the public interest. Contact Editor Carol Gentry at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.