Charging for online news is not student-friendly


    As a college student, my No. 1 reason to purchase anything is price. The last thing any college student wants is unnecessary expenses.

    News has always been something I have gotten for free. The Daily Skiff is accessible in almost any building on campus for free. Surrounding community papers and even national newspapers like, USA Today, are available in some buildings on campus for free. The easiest and most accessible form of gathering news is from sources online, and it is also free.

    A new website called Ongo has launched with a request of $7 per month to access news that is mostly free elsewhere. According to an Associated Press article, CEO Alex Kazim said the charge is due to the site’s clutter-free and advertisement-free format that will result in a cleaner and more readable layout. With the financial help from The New York Times Co., The Washington Post Co. and USA Today, Ongo will be able to host stories from different publishers on its own site. This will avoid making readers jump from site to site through hyperlinks and advertisements to find the news stories, according to the article.

    From a news company standpoint, this idea may be a phenomenal one. From a student standpoint, I would feel more ripped off than I do every time I leave the bookstore.

    There is a reason why a lot of students do not subscribe to a newspaper during the financially draining college years. It costs money. This would not be a tough obstacle to avoid. People would just keep on visiting the same, free news websites they do every single day. I would not mind closing a few pop-up ads to save $84 each year.

    As long as the news is still being distributed at no charge and read by the public, there is not much of an upside to paying for it. I understand the logic of it. News sources are trying to keep their heads above the water by bringing in any extra money they can. But the easy access to iPhone news apps and the grand total of zero dollars may overpower the idea of paying for news right now.

    But who is to say this may never become the norm? It is possible that every website may start charging a monthly fee in the future, but I am in no hurry to rush the future any faster than it is already progressing.

    As for Ongo, it may be difficult to rack up interested, news-gathering buyers when there are so many other websites offering the same news at no cost. I am not saying it will not happen; I am just saying it is not the best time for it to be happening now. Right now, I would rather enjoy something I can get for free while I still have that option.

    Kerri Feczko is a broadcast journalism and political science double major from Flower Mound.