Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I have a saying to the effect that "democracy dies behind a paywall". It's obviously a play on the Washington Post's "democracy dies in darkness", and the implication, of course, is that paywalls are a form of darkness, and as such, are deeply anti-democratic. This article examines (in too small a survey) attitudes toward paywalls, and reports three findings explaining why people oppose paywalls (not one of which is "I expect to get all my news for free"): first, a "lack of exclusivity, including the feeling that similar content could be found elsewhere for free"; second, "subscriptions are too time-consuming... subscriptions feel like "a draining chore"; third, "reluctance to commit to a single news source in the wider context of subscription fatigue of so many choices and requirements across sites." All three, taken together, reflect to my mind a media environment (and content environment generally, including education) where providers are far more concerned about their own interests than those of the readers or of wider society in general.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024 2:17 p.m.

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