What would it take to make it fun to subscribe to the news site you read? A lottery ticket? A competition?
It's a mystery Canadian comedian Samantha Bee tried to solve out in her Full Frontal show, which tackled journalism and what's at stake if people don't support it. One out of three U.S. newsroom jobs have evaporated in recent decades, and you can imagine the picture is much the same in Canada.
To find out what's at stake, she chatted with Charlie Kratovil, the baby-faced editor of a bilingual New Jersey Newspaper called New Brunswick Today.
He recalled breaking the news that his city delayed hiring a qualified water director for over five years, after the previous water director committed suicide in 2007. When there were problems with the drinking water, a man pled guilty for trying to hide the truth from public view. Police showed up at his office to seize a water meter sent to him by a concerned reader. The news was later followed up by POLITICO, which reaches over 20 million people a month.
Yet for all his efforts, Kratovil admitted his paper struggles to stay afloat with less than 100 paying subscribers, in a city of 55,000. Watch the amazing clip below:
Gamification expert Gabe Zuckerman suggested that people can be pushed to support vital public service reporting if it was more of a guilty pleasure than a duty.
"People know what they should do but they sometimes need a nudge on how to get between what they say they want to do and what they actually should be doing," he said.
Sam Bee was able to boost the New Brunswick Today's subscriptions 400 per cent by turning sign-ons into a lottery ticket to win $500.
What would it take for you to subscribe to National Observer? A vacation to Hawaii? A chance to visit northern B.C.'s rainforest?
Write us to share your thoughts. And better yet, subscribe to National Observer while you're at it.