Every year, dictionaries around the world add new words as our language evolves and expands. Facepalm, photobomb and listicle, for instance, were introduced in 2017. As you can imagine, the internet and mobile technology are responsible for major changes in language as the internet alters the way we work, read, bank and receive our information.
Introduced in 2004, the word paywall is used to describe a system that prevents internet users from accessing certain web content without a paid subscription. While the concept of paying for music subscriptions, cable TV and iBooks was accepted by the general public, there was consternation when magazines and newspapers set up paywalls and asked for subscriptions. While readers were happy to pay for magazines and newspapers at a newsagent, the vast array of free news and articles on the internet led to an expectation that news should be free. “We pay for cable, we pay for music, why shouldn’t we pay for articles?” asked journalists and editors the world over.
Over time, news and magazines made a natural split; those who introduced a paywall and those who didn’t. There are exceptions, of course, but the paid material behind the paywall was usually in-depth, researched articles while the free material tended towards listicles and clickbait. What eventually occurred with the free sites is that their pages needed to be supported by advertising and the viewer was given a choice: accept the free site with the ads, or pay more to read without.
Since AOPA became digital late last year, we have received varying feeedback about our paywall, particularly when our articles are published on Facebook. The obvious answer to these complaints is obviously, “why don’t you become a member and receive access to all of our advocacy, editorial, opinions and news?”
However, I do understand that answer may not satisfy those who don’t understand what it is our organisation does. So, for their benefit: AOPA is a non-profit organisation that exists entirely for, and because of, its membership. AOPA Australia endeavours to pay its journalists a fair wage for their work and in return we provide a vast array of articles for our members. Along with advocacy, member support, medical support, legal advice and access to all the benefits of being an AOPA member (fuel discounts, etc) AOPA’s publications are funded by the membership. If we allow public access to our articles, then we’re doing our members a disservice.
I, personally, have published 76 articles since I came on board in February; for me, writing for AOPA constitutes the bulk of my aviation journalism, alongside my regular contributions to Australian Flying and Flight Safety Australia. Each AOPA contributor has a different background and specialist area. Nicholas Christie – editor of our AOPA Student publication – is an instructor and aircraft salesperson who has a broad experience across both recreational and general aviation; Christopher Smythe – a private pilot with a passion for adventure, tehcnology and innovation; Brian Bigg – editor of our AOPA Sport – is one of the most experienced aviation journalists in Australia, with eight years under his belt at Sport Pilot magazine, as well as eight years at AOPA Pilot former print edition. He’s also an aircraft owner. Dave Pilkington is a competition-winning aerobatic pilot and regular contributor, while Rob Akron is our international correspondent, based in Europe.
In the interests of keeping the general aviation public informed, we do send out our advocacy articles without the paywall, particularly if we’re seeking support against airport closures or runway shortening, the unfair expense of ASIC cards, injust medical issues or unnecessary regulation, events and important news.
By being a member, as well as gaining access to our articles past and present, you are helping to support our efforts to tackle these advocacy issues, as well as a myriad of other activities that benefit all pilots, whether you’re in recreational or general aviation.
AOPA Australia provides a range of membership options, which include;
– FREE Student Pilot Membership (12 Months)
– AFFILIATE Membership – $129
– REGULAR – Membership – $159
Join today: www.aopa.com.au/membership
We look forward to welcoming you.