Five dollars per month will grant me access to all of the articles on Beacon Reader. Five dollars! An argument has been made that people can access many online articles for free, and shouldn’t have to pay for this service. I suppose that a brief recitation of the facts might be considered a service, but true journalism, that which involves research, perseverance, and style, is not a service; it’s a craft. Why are people willing to invest hundreds of dollars into the latest communication devices, but unwilling to invest five dollars to support informative journalism?
A monthly fee is not going to turn me away. I think a little exploration is in order.
No matter the format, journalism is journalism.
We hear the adage constantly: we live in interesting times. Growing up, I never imagined I’d see the day when newspapers might become obsolete. Then again, I probably didn’t imagine being able to take pictures or videos with a phone, either! While some doubt the future of quality journalism, others look to the future as a time of new beginnings. One thing is certain: Beacon Reader is an example of adaptation in the midst of journalistic upheaval.
I spent the past two hours reading through the Beacon Reader website, and I like what I saw. For those who are unfamiliar with Beacon Reader, allow me to highlight the way it seems to work:
- Choose one journalist or project that you would like to support
- Contribute five dollars per month to support your chosen journalist or project (quarterly, half-year, and annual contributions also possible)
- Receive access to all articles written by all journalists
- Receive updates of new posts by your chosen journalist or project
- Receive newsletters
Those were just the basics. Now, here is what I really like about this concept:
Each journalist provides his own video clip, describing what he does and why he does it. The beginning of an article is also provided, to give a glimpse of his or her writing style. If I’m going to sponsor someone, I want to know a bit about him or her!
Each journalist receives 70% of every five dollars contributed. The remaining 30% goes into a bonus fund. Readers can vote for worthwhile articles, regardless of whether they were written by the chosen journalist. Then, the article that receives the most votes also receives the bonus. I like this idea, because it allows me to support more writers and more articles!
Many articles are written by journalists who have already been published in well-known publications such as Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and BBC. In this day and age, when anyone can publish their work, despite incorrect information and horrible grammar, I am always hesitant to trust a site that simply allows writers to share their material. I was pleased to note that Beacon Reader is not simply a popularity contest that anyone can join. It seems to only accept journalists who have been previously published.
No middle man
As mentioned in this video clip on environmental issues, these journalists are not pressured by the higher-ups to skew their information. They are not going to cut a story because it wasn’t approved. They are going to write about issues that interest the readers!
I was sold as soon as I heard this. Because Beacon Reader is being sponsored by the readers, there is no need for advertisements. I would gladly pay five dollars per month to be able to read an article without being distracted by annoying, inappropriate, and depressing advertisements.
Although many of the topics currently seem to be focused on human rights and world politics, Beacon Reader does offer some diversity. Other topics addressed include space technology, science and nature, sports, literature, and unusual places.
Several of the journalists mentioned the opportunity for readers to comment, question, and interact with them. Some even intimated that the readers’ responses would drive future articles. I like the idea of interaction between writer and reader. (Feel free to consider this a shameless hint for blog readers to post comments!)
Beacon Reader has convinced me. I will gladly pay five dollars per month to receive intelligent, interesting articles without being hampered by advertisements; I just hope that Beacon Reader lives up to my expectations. Now, I need to decide which journalist to sponsor!
Question: What are your thoughts about Beacon Reader?