Today I took another step towards being an adult, I have paid for a subscription to The Times newspaper. I won’t lie this was mostly so I could read Caitlin Moran‘s column and swoon over her beautifully crafted words. I was spurred on to take up my subscription (costing just over £8 a month) after hearing her talk at Green Man Festival. She discussed why she believed the pay wall was a good thing and I am now inclined to agree with her.
Her argument concerned money, or lack of, in the creative sector. Apart from the whole economic down turn which obviously had an impact another big catalysis in this change is the internet. Offering free news, music and videos for everyone willing to search, and many of the creative people behind it never getting paid. The Times pay wall means that she, and other contributors to the paper, can be properly paid for their work. Interestingly when I was searching for a photo of Caitlin for this blog post the second search suggestion was “caitlin moran times column free”, highlighting unending search for free entertainment of the internet.
This made me think about my relationship with the internet as I grew up. I was in the first generation to truly grow up with the internet. The box in the corner of my room was my passport to the world, with all the free music, books and movies I could imagine. I loved it, days spent reading fanfiction, watching movies and listening to music. It was all at my finger tips and it was all free (well my mum paid the internet bill).
But views like this mean it’s harder than ever for a band to be signed, journalists to get jobs and authors to get a book deal. The only ones who have a chance in this climate are those who have money behind them so they can spend months and years playing, writing and creating for free until they have enough support for their talents to be recognized. Even the amount of words written and read for free on WordPress blogs is unfathomable and without the internet these words would be not be given freely to be read by anyone around the world (one day last week I had a spike in views from people in Greece).
Slowly over my life I have stepped further and further behind the pay wall. Spotify, Netflix and now The Times have all sneaked into my monthly budget. As well as frequent, perhaps too frequent, trips to the Kindle and iTunes store. I am not saying everything on the internet should be pay-per-view content hidden behind a paywall, but compared to 15 year-old me I have begun to appreciate the creativity that goes into work that people make for free on the internet. Also I think that the creative industry has a massively important part in social and political change in our country and we should not neglect the industry or the people who make it so fabulous.