If you're not paying for journalism...

... you're paying to not have journalism

We lost a reader yesterday. And I am more than fine with that.


"Floyd" wrote in asking why we "post so many links to NY Times, when we are not allowed to read Times articles online without payments?"

"I dislike this very much and will stop visiting your site," he added.

Floyd's note arrived at the end of an extraordinary week that saw journalists scrambling to get fast-changing developments on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, trying to make sense of disarray in Europe, offering insight & perspective on potentially bell-weather elections in Virginia and Kentucky, and – within the New York Times, finding space and time to cover Trump administration rollbacks from the Paris Climate Agreement to water pollution from coal plants.

So maybe I was a little harsh on Floyd. "We post from the New York Times because it has become the de facto paper of record for the United States; it makes an enormous investment in a far-flung reporter staff; it publishes a wide range of in-depth, accurate, objective journalism; and an online subscription only costs $15 a month," I wrote back.

"We hope you continue to read us," I added. "But our mission – for which foundations generously support us – is to bring the best news about the safety of our health and environment to light. And as long as papers with modest subscription costs like the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Guardian to publish such news, we'll continue to post it."

Steven Pastis, creator of the syndicated comic strip "Pearls Before Swine," nailed this last month with his sketch of a conversation between Goat and Pig. Pig thinks a city planner asked for a bribe during a permit application. Goat replies such corrupt behavior would surely have been exposed. Enter a former journalist, laid off after subscriptions tanked.

"If you're not paying for journalism, you're paying to not have journalism."

Time to go renew some subscriptions.


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