Alibi V.15 No.17 • April 27-May 3, 2006 

Thin Line

Dinosaur Stirs—The ground cracks. Pebbles and dirt clods cascade. The camera work gets all shaky. And from the earth emerges that bunch of bones, that echo of an eon gone by. It's ... the Albuquerque Journal's website, waking slowly to the fact that it was possibly the last newspaper site in the United States to charge for its content.

Maybe it wasn't. Maybe somewhere else in the country, a paper is still soaking its online patrons for a couple bucks a month if they don't have a subscription to the physical version. But maybe the Journal's newfound generosity will be a call to all the other fossils: "Yep [cough, cough], people likes them some free Internet. You on for Jurassic bridge next week, Merle?"

So I'm stoked. I can finally use the Journal's website in clear conscience for free without cheating. I guess it never felt exactly like stealing, because it was so ludicrous that it wasn't free in the first place. But there's still a catch. Still. Though I probably shouldn't be looking my gift horse in the mouth.

As someone who has nearly abandoned dead trees as her mode of news delivery, I've acquired a strange sheen on my skin from basking in the glow of my computer all day, every day. There's some stuff that's really started to irk me. For instance, it feels just like front-page advertising when you have to sit through an ad before you can get to what you were looking for. It's worse when that ad is really long and you can't skip out of it.

Before I could hop in the rusty pickup truck that is the Journal's online content, I had to first participate in a quiz about the best way to save on my phone bill. I tried to click the barely visible "exit early" button, but it was no good. I wouldn't be able to exercise my right to free information if I failed to do my part in the Vonage quiz. As far as I can tell, it looks like you have to do this each time you restart your computer. In my book, that’s like having a full-page glossy coupon slipped over the cover of your newspaper every single morning. Grrr.

Groveling--In last week's web exclusive “Thin Line,” I made a mistake. Some newspapers in the Village Voice Media alt weekly chain, formerly the New Times chain, do carry media criticism columns. Apologies are on the house.