There’s a big misunderstanding here. Journalism is not mere “information”; it is a product, created by people at some expense. No one would say “groceries want to be free” and use that as an excuse to steal steaks. Or I guess some people might, but those people would be jerks, and also criminals. “Information wants to be free” does not mean “journalism wants to be free,” or, more to the point, “journalists want to work for free.”

I like the way the Free Software Foundation puts it:

“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”

If we want to keep getting quality news, someone has to pay for it. We, as readers, don’t have a “right” to free anything. Journalists, though, do have a right to get paid for their intellectual labor. If simple traffic and advertising isn’t doing the trick, then that money has to come from somewhere else. No aphorism is going to deliver us from that basic truth.

Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner