This morning Megan McArdle mentions the shortage of hard news from Iran in the wake of its election. She does mention that The New York Times, my regular morning reading, does have full coverage. But almost no one else does, because newspapers have been forced to cut their foreign bureaus.
I know that newspapers are going to vanish, to be replaced with some other means of conveying the news. I also know that keeping expert staffers in various locations around the world, often at great risk, is expensive. I know that developing stories over long periods of time is expensive. I know that research, fact-checking, and editing are expensive.
I'm willing to help pay for this. I'd gladly pay for more news that I get. I'd pay to find out more about the situation on the ground in Belarus, in West Africa, in Central Asia. I'd pay for more non-sensationalist news about science too.
My question: in the future, who do I pay, and how? I prefer a few well-edited words to many more flaccid ones, and I want a channel I can trust, so I don't have to keep worrying that what I'm learning is wrong. I don't want to be the only one paying: I can't support a news channel on my own. But if there are too many free riders, no one will work to supply me with what I want.
I'm sure I'm not alone here. I want other people to undergo months of discomfort and danger to bring me the story, and I'm willing to pony up for it. When the newspapers are gone, who will step up to take my money and give me what I want?