The Columbia Missourian paywall makes no sense.
It makes no sense for journalism students, many of whom are, uh, required to take reporting classes with the Missourian. That means that besides shelling out for those credit hours and providing free labor for a professional newspaper, these students have to pay extra money in order for them (and potential employers) to access their own work.
Come to think of it, it makes no sense for any student, actually. Sure, there are hard copies of this MU-funded newspaper available for free on newsstands all around campus, thanks to the Mizzou Readership Program, which is funded by student fees. But any student who wants to look up articles from the past — meaning older than 24 hours — has to pay $5.95 per month to do so.
The Missouri Students Association thought this was weird, too. Former MSA President Nick Droege began communicating with the Missourian in fall 2013 about removing the paywall for students. Two months later, after Droege threatened to pull the Missourian from its readership program, Missourian General Manager Dan Potter agreed to look into the issue.
Yet, it is the end of the year, and the wall is still standing.
The Missourian paywall grosses an estimated $40,000 a year, which sounds nice, but it actually only accounts for 2.5 percent of the Missourian’s yearly expenditures. When compared with the $690,000 the newspaper receives from students’ lab fees, that total is even more pathetic. Wouldn’t it make more sense to remove the paywall, thus increasing the number of hits to the Missourian’s website, which could then allow the Missourian to charge more for advertising? This sounds like a pay model that is more beneficial for all, including students.
What happened to the almost-removed paywall, then? When new MSA President Mason Schara began his term at the end of January, his administration took on a less-forceful approach with the Missourian. Instead of fighting to remove the paywall, MSA executives fought to gain more access to the Missourian on campus. Though this is an OK temporary solution, we can’t help but get annoyed.
Clearly, the root of the problem is that the Missourian is slow in both considering options for a better type of paywall and finding how to take down its paywall for students. Potter said in January the newspaper would encounter high technology challenges and costs. But we can’t help but wonder, Why don’t you just get some of your free labor to figure it out for you?
(P.S. MSA, if you decide to finally cut the Missourian, just remember — we’re already free!)