The only people mourning the death of journalism are those in the profession; so no, Toronto Star: don’t tell people to pay for something they don’t want.
So let’s turn the tables to give you a lecture on why people don’t want to pay for your products, and why they don’t want the free version, either.
I will not bore you with a history lesson because let’s not pretend people care about the past or the future.
But let’s talk about the present.
Journalism has a broken mindset.
You were always amateurs at your jobs, but you talked a good talk, and it helped that you were once the only game in town.
That meant the rigs worked in the journalists’ favour.
It’s akin to asking your mom and dad to buy you a bicycle for your birthday, and then running off to ask the next-door neighbours to buy you one.
You are more likely to get the bike from mom and dad than from strangers.
The rig in your house favours you, but one house down, that rig isn’t there.
The rig that denies you that trinket, on the other hand, is firmly in place.
In one house, you get what you want. In the other, you are seen as an impudent little freak.
When you grow up in one of these houses, you can take that rig to be the truth, never realizing not all grown-ups will give in to your whims.
If you are always at the mercy of the stranger’s abode, you can also take that rig for granted, thinking you have no right to ask for anything because you will always be denied.
The reality depends on which house you are standing in. The truth is that there are two very different rigs in both houses.
As someone who taught college students, I saw the shock when some students, for the very first time, faced a rig that denied them what they wanted. They were used to their indulging parents who harassed their teachers into letting things slide, but once they came into my classroom, where they were adults and their parents’ reach and influence meant nothing, they soon discovered that they weren’t entitled to make unreasonable demands, and that there was such a word as “No.”
Journalism reminds me of those sheltered students who did not understand the concept of rigs. For decades, they held all of the cards.
And then suddenly, they stopped playing with a full deck.
So all the old tricks and techniques lost their potency, and they didn’t know how to cope. They did not think to question how much of their beliefs hinged on certain rigs being set up in a certain way to favour them.
It’s like the teenagers who lie to their parents who pretend to buy their stories, and then think they can outsmart everyone else, who will not enable or indulge. The inflated sense of cunning often translate to a painful transition to adulthood.
Someone people eventually figure out why their games no longer work, and then they smarten up, mature, and change. They become more responsible as time goes on.
But others still cling to the old illusions, always getting pummelled, and never knowing what keeps hitting them.
Journalism is in the same place as the latter group.
The Internet’s grip has been around for my entire adult life, and I have had the same primary email account for over twenty years; but journalism’s mindset has not grasped this fact after all of this time.
Because the mindset is broken. There is no ability to grasp truths in order to improve reality.
The painting above represents Serbs from many moons ago.
It is a symbol of when those Serbs — who had been oppressed tumbleweeds under the Ottoman Empire finally clued in that things were never going to get better until they got out and put down roots somewhere else.
So young, old, men, women, and children packed up their things and made their way to the Hapsburg Monarchy. Warriors, clergy, farmers. mothers — even the animals — all made that long trek because they finally got it.
These were people who understood that despite their cunning, abilities, and even different experiences and walks of life, weren’t going to find prosperity or freedom unless they moved toward something radically different.
The rigs weren’t working for them, and when they moved, they altered their own mindsets.
But Serbs aren’t the only ones who understood the importance of moving in a new direction.
Yet journalists destroyed their own profession by refusing to see how the rigs that favoured them impeded their progression — or see how the rigs of the Internet were tripping them up at every turn.
Back then, Serbs were merely looking for a home. A place where the rigs didn’t bring them a foregone life of tragedy.
Journalism died because they never saw what that painting roared to the world: change your mindset and plant new seeds in more fertile places for new roots to grow.