JIM CREES: There’s no such thing as free
So ... then there is Facebook.
We here at the Pioneer run a newspaper. We also maintain a Facebook and Twitter account, as do most businesses today.
On our Facebook page we daily place snippets of items of interest which we are running in the newspaper that same day. Generally speaking, we do not run any of the stories we publish in their entirety. We also maintain an electronic edition of the newspaper — by subscription.
Our Facebook page IS NOT our newspaper, any more than a photo of a pair of shoes is, indeed, a pair of shoes.
A lot of people work at this newspaper. We, like many others in this community, work, take our kids to school, pay off car loans, student loans and mortgages. We work, create a product, and market that product for public consumption.
What confuses us is why someone would believe our hard work should be disseminated and passed around for free?
Almost daily we are taken to task for not offering our work up free of charge.
“The news should be free,” is trumpeted regularly on our websites.
Why should the news be free?
We have a staff of eight people working in our newsroom daily collecting, compiling, reviewing and composing the news of the day. They attend meetings when most people are home in front of the TV. They go to events, happenings and often interminable sessions in order to give readers a review of what is happening in their community.
We have staff working holidays and weekends while most our readers are comfortably wrapped up in the warmth of home and family.
We have young people covering trials with testimony no parent would allow their child to watch or hear on TV.
We try to sift through mountains of information to offer summaries as best we can.
Then a staff of four design the newspaper, lay it out, make sure everything fits and is in place and the presentation is respectful and respectable.
Two dozen people, at any given stage have a hand a turning out a daily newspaper, not to mention the advertising team and the folks in our composition and artistic services who are at their desks each and every day creating this newspaper and other publications. And the team out at the press as well.
So ... all that work should be free? Seriously!!??!!
Why can’t I stroll next door to Schuberg’s and get a beer for free — simply because I exist?
Why can’t I take my grandson to the Old Pioneer Store and get an ice cream for free — because he is cute?
Why can’t I get my dental work done free — because I live here in Big Rapids?
Why is our labor at the Pioneer any different than the work of any other business in this community?
Yet every day we are taken to task for not supplying our work for free.
In July of 2000, members of the rock band Metallica testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Napster’s stealing of music from artists and distributing the music files for free on the Internet through peer sharing.
Members of the group discovered their entire music catalog was being traded — for free — amongst more than 330,000 users.
The public responded with “Music should be free!”
Metallica front man Lars Ulrich countered with the argument that band members conceive, write, produce, record and put all the effort into creating the music. Why should they not receive any recompense?
We too put all the effort into covering the meeting or event you didn’t attend, so why is our effort without value?
And with regard to the oft noted complaint that other news organizations offer their material for free, welllllllllll ... some do and some don’t.
Readers can always go to the sites that offer free news, (but there are fewer and fewer of them around as news organizations wake up to the fact that they are losing money by offering their work for free.)
Cranker’s doesn’t offer breakfast for free.
Meijer doesn’t offer groceries for free.
Admiral doesn’t offer gas for free.
They all produce a product or service, as do we.
Our work for free?
How about you mow my lawn for free?!