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Entitlement.

It’s a diagnosis for the 2010 generation. The Internet has made everything easy to access, available at any moment, and, for the most part, free.  Take a look at the top sites on the Internet — Google, Facebook, YouTube…

Anyone who tries to take that “free”dom away from us is probably doomed to failure. I say probably, because even as a person fed a social networking and video streaming diet everyday, I have hope that someone may be able to accomplish the feat for successfully charging for online content.

Then comes The New York Times announcement. Starting in 2011, it will start charging its frequent visitors a flat fee for unlimited access after a certain number of free articles are accessed.

You may say, Wait, excuse me? Mr. Big Stuff? Who do you think you are?

Well, I know what you are, Mr. NYT. Brilliant.

If anyone is going to try to attempt setting online journalism in the right direction, it better be The New York Times. They often set a precedent, and not to be cheesy like the NYTimes Weekender commercials, but they do have the best journalists in the world.

It really is a great plan — especially because of this little clause: “Subscribers to the newspaper’s print edition will receive full access to the site.”

Do you know what this means? It means people will buy the paper.

You may disagree; perhaps you are just too eco-friendly for that. But really, have you ever thought about how much energy it takes to light up your computer screen?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying for the online, then I better be getting the print version too. Besides, nothing beats the nostalgic feeling of picking up a paper, awkwardly trying to hold it open when it feels like it’s bigger than you and about to eat you whole any minute. The ink marks on your thumbs, even the smell of it, plus you can keep copies and show ‘em to your kids.

Sorry, I sometimes forget this is a college newspaper.

So now, you know how strange I really am. I’m cuckoo for newspapers. But even if you aren’t, one can appreciate the statement The New York Times is trying to make: Why is it that when people see it fine to spend thousands of dollars on clothes, technology, music and movies, that the intellectual word is given the shaft?

It’s 2010, ladies and gentlemen. Did you really think information would be free forever?

Even after journalists have spent years talking their heads off about the possibility of charging for content, no one has been gutsy enough to take that first step for journalism-kind. As Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, put it, “We can’t get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right.”

Can I just say, thank you so much for your bold move, old friend. I have no harsh feelings. I hope the best for you, and others who may follow in your footsteps. Work hard, look at the big picture, and listen to your readers.

And what about us? We’ll keep our ink-stained fingers crossed.

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