Last week, I was sitting in my favorite chair at my favorite table at my favorite corner of Kibo Midnight Oil Coffeehouse. It was a Thursday afternoon, which is my favorite afternoon of the week.
On Thursday afternoons at Midnight Oil, I dedicate a couple of hours to catching up on my favorite news and newsletters. It’s the afternoon after we submit the newspaper to the printer, so the few hours I spend there often end up being a rejuvenation.
I’m recharged with caffeine, friendship and the world’s news in just a couple of hours. I was most encapsulated last week by “The Future of Everything,” a newsletter from The Wall Street Journal that covers all of the latest trends and news in technology. The lead story from last week was about SanTO, a confessional robot — just one of many robots that religious institutions are implementing, along with artificial intelligence, to offer empathy to the faithful.
As I was busy wondering what would happen to a robot if someone spilled communion juice on its hardware, a friend approached my table. He, too, was intrigued by the article’s claim that the future of religion might be digital, robotic, mechanic and intuitive, and while neither of us was too convinced that this fate would shake out, he was intrigued, even more, by something that caught me off guard. He was intrigued that I was paying for my news.
I subscribe to four news sites: The Daily Citizen, which services my immediate community; The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which services my state-wide news needs; and The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which offer me national and international news, along with a wide array of specialized topics — like church robots.
My friend was shocked that I’d be willing to fork over money each month to online news services when I could simply open the Twitter app on my phone and find my news there or turn on the television and listen to the talking heads deliver me what they think is news.
Here’s the catch: those news sources are appealing to the masses. Because they’re appealing to the masses, they’re putting out content that will get the clicks, the reads and the shares.
When I invest money in my local, independent newspaper and credible, nation-wide publications, I invest my money in knowledge.
By charging subscribers for content, news organizations are no longer forced to rely on the flashiest clickbait or the most alarming headline. Instead, these news organizations can take an approach to their news that employs traditional news values and objectivity.
More so, when I subscribe to these news organizations, I get to be selective about the news I receive, too. Did you know that The Wall Street Journal has more than 30 different specialized newsletters that you can subscribe to?
This means that you can have curated content on your favorite topics delivered directly to your inbox; topics like markets, technology, real estate, Hollywood, religion and an array of other topics, even robot ushers.
When you invest in anything, you’re almost always going to get a higher-quality service or product in return. You pay for Spotify because you want to get rid of the pesky ads. You pay for Netflix because you want a wider array of movies and TV shows. You pay for news because you want the most professional, specialized news in the field.
The future of the church might be robotic. I sure hope it’s not, but I certainly do hope that people understand that the future of news is paid. You can’t afford to not pay for your news in an age when blind ignorance is the lousiest excuse for the complacency.