April 29, 2004

Would you pay for WILL content on the web? 

I wouldn't. By saying that I know I am drawing a line in the sand. So if I change my mind down the road, please call me on it. I will have changed. And that's what some people, even in public broadcasting, say I should do. But I won't. Here's why: We broadcast news, public affairs interviews, and cultural productions that allow you to learn, grow, and participate meaningfully in a healthy democratic society. On the web it's the same mission. And in fact the web is more powerful than broadcasting in that you can timeshift and search it any way you need to. It's the ultimate media device, or at least it could be. We should try to help it realize that potential. If we put up gates and make you pay, we've taken a public thoroughfare and blocked it with tollbooths. You can be a citizen if you can pay the toll. Next thing you know we have a culture of information haves and have-nots, of the privileged and the disadvantaged, a system which perpetuates itself by reinforcing the factors that drive advantage and failure. Oops, too late, we already have that. So I think we have to make a concerted effort, maybe even a herculean one, to break down the barriers to participation and success. It's called education, and it's what public broadcasting should be doing on the web. We should make it universal, and that means no toll booths. So here's a brief rant with few details about why I'm writing it now. More later.

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