It’s no mystery media organizations, particularly newspapers, are in a state of turmoil right now. Like music and publishing, the news industry faces significant pressures. Digital has challenged every aspect of their traditional business model. This has led to the high-profile demise of some newspapers, and significant course correction by others.

Postmedia has undergone some significant changes. Among them, the end of Sunday print editions. Another recent decision is invoking a pay wall. That means readers must pay to access online content. Other newspapers have already gone that route to much criticism. The criticism stems from the argument news should be free. If it can be found for free online, the argument goes, why would anyone in their right mind pay for it?

It’s not that simple. That was obvious in a conversation I kicked off on Facebook yesterday after arriving at the end of my free access to news on OttawaCitizen.com. It’s a nuanced discussion.

“I’m not saying newspapers are dead. They are just becoming less relevant for me personally.”
— Sue Murphy

A dominant theme had to do with quality of the contribution. The Ottawa Citizen, for example, has some top shelf investigative journalists. Among recent high-profile achievements, Glen McGregor and Steve Maher broke the story of Pierre Poutine and his voter-interfering Robocalls. Participants also praised David Reevely, Joanne Chianello, Neco Cockburn and Meghan Hurley noting that much of the so-called “free local news” we enjoy over Twitter is sourced from these journalists.

“…if you’ve got a paper that actually does do investigative journalism – my vote is to support it.”
— James McCann

Some participants took issue with the views of columnist David Warren. Andrew Jeanes and Bob Ledrew were clear they wouldn’t be paying for news if Warren was part of the package. That sentiment went out on Twitter where Ottawa Citizen journalist Dan Gardner assured the group Warren’s last column for the paper was on July 15. That information drew a few digital cheers. The dismissal of Anne Desbrisay cost the Ottawa Citizen at least one subscriber in the group.

Some participants noted home delivery includes full online access.

On Twitter, Jason Kownacki noted we either pay directly through subscriptions or indirectly through ads. The Ottawa Citizen has been known to present obnoxious flash animations in front of their main page. Even if I’m paying for my news, I will expect some advertising. That’s been a reality with print editions since the dawn of the industry. However, I won’t tolerate advertising getting in the way of the news I want to read.

“Somewhere along the line we will have to pay for quality, edited content on the web.”
— Helaine Becker

The fact is, there’s a lot of noise on the web and we can only filter so much noise ourselves. It’s not surprise we need (or will need) to rely on an organization (or two or three for comparison) which can dig, write, curate and present the local, national and international news.

That’s why I’m going to subscribe to the Ottawa Citizen.

Photo: Pay phone uploaded to Flickr by Rosh Sillars.