• jonathan bagnato

How to avoid paywalls on news sources

Updated: Apr 10




These days, the internet is more like the wild west than when it was first formed, and many of us are just as lost ourselves navigating it.

So what do we do?

There are a few things we must understand first:

  1. Nothing on the internet is "Free"; every click costs you something.

  2. News isn't just "News."

  3. Who is checking the fact-checkers?

  4. At some point every day, you are engaging with Artificial Intelligence (A.I) or an algorithm.

  5. All of your info is already out there- deal with it.

So what does this have to do with "Paywalls?" and why are they very divisive, suppressive, marginalizing, abusive, and discriminatory practices.

You're probably asking yourself where I am going with this and why I should continue reading: well, the point is in most scenarios of our life, we need to make informed decisions about our lives, our finances, our politics, our children, and our world.

Often behind these "Paywalls" is that exact info we need to make informed decisions.

Let me paint a scenario for you. Earlier today, I was trying to research the new bill in New Jersey A4454, which requires school districts to include instruction on diversity and inclusion as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

This bill, along with the bill recently passed in Florida, has come under some scrutiny. The thing now with the internet, "news," and I say that entirely passive-aggressively because I don't think any longer following any of the primary media sources- any of them- is beneficial to us as a society anymore.

Before reading bill A4454, all I knew was that people were saying that teachers now had to teach second graders about gender identity and sex at such a young age. Now- this article I'm writing is not about that issue at all-it's about the horrendous lies the media tells to spin bills and stories to produce an emotional response.

Let's be clear- the media is a "for-profit business."

The news is meant to be shocking insomuch the "shock" value warrants a click on your part to "Read" the article. Our previous president referred to a lot of the media as "Fake News." That is a very, wildly inaccurate terminology for it. The news is "Real," often sadly so. But, the way every news outlet portrays each story is the falsities. They omit or exaggerate or often avoid vast parts of the story and only take the aspects that concern their agenda or readers.

Here's the bait and switch, Catchy headline, you click, you're brought to a page where you have to enter your email to read the article. That's where and how it starts next- they then as you to subscribe or pay them.

Now they got you-

On top of that, they track your clicks, the time you spend on the page, track where else your email is used, and compile a profile of people with similar "Click" patterns and concerns. It's all aggregated, collected, and stored in big data spreadsheets. So that data scientists can look at this compiled data and then use that information to-you guessed it- create more "news" you will click on. Each click is money in their pocket.

So how do we avoid "paywalls."

Let's go back to bill A4454, and I kept searching; the top 5 articles that came up on Google were all right-leaning news companies, as expected. The content of these articles was useless to me. I wanted a simple link to click to take me right to the New Jersey legislation as I provided for you in this article. That's all I wanted- simple. But these bills and the lengthy legal documents they come bundled in are usually on the second or third page of our browser, even if we can find them.

Why is that? For starters, Politicians and legislators aren't concerned with their bills clicks on the internet. It's not their job to do proper SEQ management, nor are they profiting directly from the news about their bills. Often bills are passed in the shadow of the night with hardly any media coverage at all. And it is my opinion that's precisely what's supposed to happen.

Now with all this, what are we really to do. It's simple if you're concerned with a piece of legislation, don't take some twenty-something article or piece of "journalism" on it- go directly to the bill, read it, do your best to interpret it. The information is out there.

So why is this relevant? Like many people who were up in arms about this piece of legislation essentially indoctrinating children, they all would be wrong. The bill states that 9-12 grades will learn not specifically about gender identity but a whole suite of social topics and including gender identities. All of the things introduced in this bill are wholesome as long as not abused. As in any bill.

The reason I picked bill A4454 instead of HB 1557 is that this is a less polarizing a topic. Remember, this article isn't about either of these bills; it's simply pointing out not only how to avoid "Paywalls" it's also about informing yourself on the actual legislation, not someone who is hired by a company with an agenda to get clicks, to sell you ideas, to sell you narratives, to sell you thoughts. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions turn into passions, passions turn into votes- and that's exactly how people come into power.

Writers, journalists, reviewers, and fact-checkers are all just people, people with their own biases, feelings, and jobs- these jobs come with requirements. Imagine being an avid Trump supporter and working at CNN- it doesn't work- but now at Fox, something like that would probably be encouraged. The point is that low-level journalist, if they want to keep their job, isn't going to write how great Trump is- they'd probably get no clicks on their articles and equally would get fired because they aren't following companies' narratives.

People write what they are paid to write. People click on what they are interested in. Shock works- but fear also works, Case in point is these last few years. I'm still trying to find data on 2019/2020 news statistics, and how much news outlets earned in 2018 versus 2019/2020. Always follow the money.

So what about me- what about this article? Well, for starters, I'm not getting paid, and second I don't have any plan other than suggesting to people to read bills for themselves and not just take the "news" word for it.

There are so many exceptional journalists out there reporting, asking the right questions, and risking everything to find the truth- unfortunately, none of them can be found at any major news outlet- so you'll have to go out and find ones that make sense to you, that report on accurate, unbiased things and don't just create headlines.

So happy hunting and happy reading, from yours truly, Yoga Jon.


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