Global news becomes harder to access

Paywalls frustrate users

Liz Colburn, Guest Columnist

Since going online and learning how to create revenue from simply being online newspapers and academic sources have not let up on subscriptions. If I try to read an article a friend linked to me on the New York Times website, Apple News or other media outlets like them, I’m bombarded with pop-ups saying to sign in, create an account and subscribe to the website. If I don’t, another comes up, saying I can’t read the article without paying for it, or in the best case, that I only have 2 out of 3 articles left to read for free and beyond that I’m out of luck. 

Unless, of course, I’d like to buy a subscription to every newspaper an article that interests me belongs to. I understand that most of the newspaper’s revenue comes from subscriptions, but when online, their ad spaces surely must make up for the lack of subscriptions. The pop-ups on the top, side and bottom parts of the screen obscure the text so that even when trying to read an article that I have access to, I need to turn on an ad blocker just to see the screen. 

Students in almost every level of school are at some point asked to write an academic paper and to cite their sources. Now, this isn’t a problem for students with sources given to them, as citing is just an exercise to practice for future use. But for most students, creating works cited page can become increasingly difficult as they need to look for sources they can access and read, without encountering five different pop-ups obscuring the text. 

Students can’t help but use just the free abstract to support their entire papers or an article that, maybe for free, has almost nothing to do with their actual topic and can only superficially be used in their paper. When looking for an article to use for, say, an essay, I would usually use Google Scholar. But even when looking through completely academic papers, the bulk of the information I find is kept behind a payment wall, with a free abstract that summarizes the article but provides no actual evidence that I can cite in my paper to support my argument. 

Students need full access to academic journal articles but are locked out because of the capitalistic need to gate-keep research unless paid to be unlocked.   

As we move into the digital age, it may be hard for academic journals and newspapers to keep up with revenue as the amount people are willing to pay for a physical subscription to these sources drops. Even The Atlantic has said that these outlets are looking for a way to make up the lost money through their paywalls. But they also said that publishers use tradition as a way to explain it away as well. 

They publish their academic articles at a cost so they don’t have to charge their authors who work based on grant money and not as a job, but to get a job after being published. For academics working towards getting a job in their field, which requires them to be published in a journal, their research should not have to be bought to be accessed. Even then, the article isn’t actually in the possession of the person who bought access to it. 

It’s only serving as a kind of ticket to view the article. If the account, or the ticket, is lost then that person can no longer access that article and would need to pay again to see it.