Journalism’s way forward

The Star Tribune website will move to a paid subscription system.

Editorial board

Earlier this week, the Star Tribune announced it will begin offering readers digital subscriptions this month. Instead of providing audiences with unlimited content on its website, readers will be allowed to view up to 20 stories per month on their computers or mobile devices. After viewing 20 stories, readers must purchase a digital subscription in order to view more. Subscribers who get a physical copy will have unlimited access to the website.

The Star Tribune is not the first to begin charging for content. Many major papers have already moved to a subscription system.

Like every other business, newspapers require money to stay alive. However, large corporate backers create conflict of interest problems, as would public funding. News sources must be sustained by their communities.

A strong and free press is a necessary requirement for a democratic society. However, capitalism does not reward the public value of journalism. Instead, it subjects public goods to market conditions, often placing those goods at risk.

In order to show that readers value the public good of professional journalism, they must be willing to reward it in the marketplace and pay for online content. At the same time, the Star Tribune must be important and relevant enough to its community to draw subscribers.

JournalismâÄôs value is democratic, not market-based, but it must find a way to survive in the marketplace. The community it covers must help it do so.