Los Angeles, CA — “You’ve reached your monthly free article limit.” That’s the message Jenny Wagner says she faced when she tried to read about the Alabama Senate race last December. Like so many others, she had no idea how scarce news had become. “I would complain that no one told us, but that’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?”
Jenny, a single mother of two living in North Hollywood, says her family has been hit hard by the news shortage. Many readers of the Los Angeles Times know the same struggle. Articles are rationed to just five per month per family, with each allowance coming at the beginning of each month. Now that it’s June, families may be tempted to splurge, but Jenny knows that would be unwise. “Five does feel like a lot these days. But we have to remember, this has to last us all the way until July,” Jenny explains. “This is when we have to be most careful.”
“I took the news for granted.”
For the Wagners, the month of June will be like the past six months before it: they will use their five views on two local news articles, one on home and garden, one on global news, and one on politics. It’s not nearly enough for a family of three — but they’ll have to make do. Through all of this, Jenny credits her fourteen-year-old daughter, Leah, for keeping her strong. “I’m so proud of how she’s handling this. She’s really stepped up.”
Hard times have been especially hard on her youngest, Aiden. At five years old, he’s too young to understand why the news is gone. “How do you explain to a five-year-old why he’s not allowed to read the opinion section today?” Jenny asks, holding back tears. “It just breaks my heart.” Jenny will often scrape by on just headlines so Aiden and Leah have enough.
But despite their trials, the Wagners are staying positive. “If anything, we appreciate what little news we get that much more,” Jenny says. It’s this attitude that has helped the family deal with the challenge life has thrown at them. “I know we’ll get through this, even if that means we have to stay behind on current events.
“By the way, did you hear about this Facebook thing? Disgusting.”
When reached for comment, a representative from the LA Times said, “Jesus Christ, literally just pay ninety-nine cents and you can read all the news. Is that really so much to ask?”