January 17, 2010

We're going to have to pay to read the NYT on line.

The announcement is coming soon.

For me, reading on line is tied to blogging. I'm not going to spend my time reading sites that I can't blog, and I'm not going to blog and link to sites that you can't read without paying. Currently, I link to the NYT a lot, perhaps several times a day. I don't know how much of their traffic is sent their way from blogs, but it's one more factor that will limit their readership. You'd think what a newspaper would want most is readers, both to influence and to sell to advertisers. I know they need to make money, but I wish advertising was the way. Once they close themselves off — as they did once before with the failure known as TimesSelect — they sacrifice readers and lose appeal for advertisers.

I know there is talk of "the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe." If that means we can, without paying, see the front page and read a few articles (in their entirety) each day, then I might not object. That would allow me to read and feel free to blog.

ADDED:
Hanging over the deliberations is the fact that the Times’ last experience with pay walls, TimesSelect, was deeply unsatisfying and exposed a rift between Sulzberger and his roster of A-list columnists, particularly Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd, who grew frustrated at their dramatic fall-off in online readership. Not long before the Times ultimately pulled the plug on TimesSelect, Friedman wrote Sulzberger a long memo explaining that, while he was initially supportive of TimesSelect, he’d been alarmed that he had lost most of his readers in India and China and the Middle East.

“As we got into it, it was clear to me I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition,” Friedman recently told me by phone. “What was coming to me anecdotally from my travels was the five worst words that as a columnist you ever want to hear: ‘I used to read you before you went behind the wall.’”
Five words, eh?

113 comments:

former law student said...

I assume academics and students will get a discount as they do for the dead tree edition.

bagoh20 said...

Sure, why not. People pay to be abused all the time. It's big business.

Florida said...

"We're going to have to pay to read the NYT on line."

No, they've got that backwards.

They're going to have to pay me if they want my time (and if their advertisers want my attention).

My time is worth more than their news. I can get their news from the DailyKos free of charge.

bagoh20 said...

"...I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition,..."

If you do both it's like matter and antimatter.

PatCA said...

"Five words, eh?"

That's the kind of math that got them in all this trouble in the first place, eh? :)

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Good grief... How blind to sentiment can they be? They are simply not worth paying to read, while the WSJ (which caters to a crowd that actually has money to spend) is...

Next step is that they'll be looking for a government bailout. Perhaps this is just part of the strategizing in advance of that.

AJ Lynch said...

What a relief- I can read this announcement for free.

BTW the NYT and others refused to substantively cover two of the biggest stories of 2009. Those being the Tea Party movement and the climategate scandal.

So they won't get any of my money.

wv= barnworm

AJ Lynch said...

WSJ home delivey and online access is $400 per year. It's well worth it IMO.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

I hope the Little Eichmanns at Pravda all starve to death.

/yes, I know I'm mixing, but Der Stürmer doesn't ring

Ricardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricardo said...

I've been reading the New York Times (dead tree as fls quipped, and online) for decades. But this would be the end of the line. The only thing I'm willing to pay for is The Economist. While the NYT has an interesting cross-section of articles, they're not worth paying for in this era of an over-saturated media.

And as to the qwestion they pose in the article ...

"I asked Friedman whether any of the technologists he meets during his globe-trotting had presented any groundbreaking ideas for how to save the Times and journalism."

The answer is to license journalists, just as they do doctors and lawyers and other professionals, and to hold them to professional standards. Right now, every crackpot can call themselves a journalist, and its difficult to differentiate between the crackpots. But journalists will tell you that licensing (and background checks, and admission standards) discriminates against freedom-of-the-press, and therefore the profession is committing seppuku in a slow and painful-to-watch way. At its core, it's not about technology, it's about the crackpots that have taken over the profession and smothered the voices of the few remaining journalists.

AllenS said...

“What was coming to me anecdotally from my travels was the five worst words that as a columnist you ever want to hear: ‘I used to read you before you went behind the wall.’”

Actually, that's a true statment, if you don't count the words that start with "y", "w", or "t".

AllenS said...

In case that Ritmo is reading this, that would translate to:
"I used read before behind."

Peter V. Bella said...

The Times has been going bankrupt for years. The shareholders have been in an uproar- they have no votes- over the special shareholders who do. The special shareholders are the family- if you could call them that- who run the NYT.

The New York Times readership and advertising have been on a sharp decline and management- the family- has done nothing to change course.

There are no journalists at the times. Just over educated political pundits pretending to be reporters. No one told them the 1960s ended.

The New York Times was once a great paper. Now no self respecting fish would be caught dead wrapped in it.

Just let it go bankrupt. We would all be better off without it.

edutcher said...

Agree with Peter V. Pinch is raping the Gray Lady one last time and will leave her bleeding in the street.

Florida said...

"Pinch is raping the Gray Lady one last time and will leave her bleeding in the street."

Bitch had it comin'.

rollingdivision said...

Old media death spiral.

Wandering Geologist said...

I'm glad. I refuse to register for a free NYT account on principle, so I can never read the articles anyway.

HT said...

Well, listening to CSPAN for the last six months, it sounds like it won't just be the NYT that charges, but this is the thinking in the entire industry, so we can get used to it. Whether or not it succeeds this time is another story.

(Please don't delete me! I'll have more to say about that later, if it's not deleted.)

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Althouse: You used to pay for the newspaper when you had it delivered to your home and when you bought one on the street. Why do you expect to now be able to read it for free, just because it's being delivered in a different format?

Are the people who write and report the news--that you in turn use to fill your own blog--suddenly of lesser value? Obviously it was worth it to you to pay for before, so what's changed?

Someone has to pay for something at some point, and I think bloggers who regularly read and write up stories from newspapers should be the FIRST ones to pay, especially if they're doing it "several times a day."

Pretend your blog is better monetized (which it really could be based on your traffic) and you're making a lot of ad revenue. Don't you feel bad knowing you're making money off readers who come here to read about what you think of a story as reported by the NYT, who aren't making any money off you? It's a moral issue!

bagoh20 said...

I don't know why anyone would pay for media today. There is far more quality stuff available for free than any human could possibly digest. In particular, NYT writers are not very insightful, and certainly not special, just famous. Give the money to charity if you don't need it.

bagoh20 said...

"I assume academics and students will get a discount as they do for the dead tree edition."

Of course, it's the moral thing to do, to subsidize those poor souls with no means or future.

rhhardin said...

They're fine-tuning which exact way that they'll go bankrupt.

John Lynch said...

They are a business, and need to figure something out since they are going broke. They should have tried this years ago.

People read the New York Times. Even conservatives who hate it link to it all the time. It does fill a need. They should try to make money based on that.

I wish them well, but I doubt I'll be paying for a subscription. That's the problem, isn't it?

William said...

I think music groups now make more from their concert appearances than they do from record sales. Something similar might happen with columnists for the NYT. The column is a platform from which they can launch their paid appearances and bolster their book sales. So far as straight news reporting goes: The big expense is not the salary of the reporter but the cost of dead trees and their delivery.....There has to be a way of electronically printing a newspaper in a profitable way. This probably isn't the way. But someone will eventually hit on the formula.

HT said...

Agreed William. Well put.

The Crack Emcee said...

"We're going to have to pay to read the NYT on line."

Who's "we" white lady?

Sorry - couldn't help it.

El Pollo Real said...

ZPS said about Althouse:

Pretend your blog is better monetized (which it really could be based on your traffic) and you're making a lot of ad revenue. Don't you feel bad knowing you're making money off readers who come here to read about what you think of a story as reported by the NYT, who aren't making any money off you? It's a moral issue!

How about a nominal fee for the privilege of commenting here? I'll go first! In fact, I went first, and I'll pony up again in May: link.

P.S. If you give through Paypal, you get a really swell thank you e-note electronically signed by Althouse herself.

Maguro said...

ZPS, you know how to serve up the liberal guilt like a real NYT journalist!

You should consider putting your comments behind a subscription wall.

Peano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peano said...

"We're going to have to pay to read the NYT on line."

And this is a problem because ... ???

Maybe my standards are too low, but I think I can be an informed citizen without reading the NYT. Frankly, I think the country would be better off if the NYT shut its doors tomorrow morning.

bearing said...

I assume that the "five worst words" are "I used to read you," and that the speaker then added "...before you went behind the wall" as a clarification.

Der Hahn said...

ZPS

If your premise is true, you need to explain why it's necessary for the NYT (and almost every other print media) to sell advertising space. The subscription price of any dead-tree media likely doesn't even cover the cost of distribution, let alone the actual cost of producing the content.

Remember that radio and television have the same revenue strucuture as a website. Freely distributed content, in exchange for delivering (more accurately, promising to deliver) eyeballs to the advertising wrapped around the content.

The reason print-media websites are failing is the way the web makes it plain via click-through counts on web-based ads that the number of eyeballs on the ads paying for the content is vastly overstated. This is something that has been suspected every since VCR's got fast-forward buttons but was hard to quantify until people actually got to 'vote' on what ads catch their eye.

Bill said...

"... the five worst words that as a columnist you ever want to hear: ‘I used to read you before you went behind the wall.’”

Five words, eh?


Presumably the five words are "I used to read you".

The Eight Deadly Words for a fiction writer: "I don't care what happens to these characters."

vbspurs said...

ZPS wrote:

Pretend your blog is better monetized (which it really could be based on your traffic) and you're making a lot of ad revenue. Don't you feel bad knowing you're making money off readers who come here to read about what you think of a story as reported by the NYT, who aren't making any money off you?

Your point would have more legs if Ann were going to a pay-only site, and then "filching" the articles after typing them up here, thereby making illicit moneys from them.

As it is, they are a free online site, with the exception of TimeSelect (incidentally, if my memory doesn't fail, Ann at one point was a subscriber to that) and that, until now, was the norm with newspapers.

If you want to make the argument that they are not entirely "free" since subscribers have to pay, not really. I can go to the public library to read them for "free", though in reality taxpayers foot the bill.

It's a moral issue!

This reminds me of when most people say, it's the principle, not the money.

No. It's always the money.

Cheers,
Victoria

Palladian said...

"Someone has to pay for something at some point, and I think bloggers who regularly read and write up stories from newspapers should be the FIRST ones to pay, especially if they're doing it "several times a day."

Is that how things work in the porn blogging business where you work, Zachary? Actually, I believe it's the other way around. The sites you link to pay you for the linkage. So when you recommend a particular piece of videotaped copulation or other, your employer gets a check from the producer.

So why the dudgeon about bloggers wanting to link to free content? When you link to something, you get paid. Why not advocate this model for the legitimate blogging industry?

Palladian said...

"It's a moral issue!"

Moral lessons from a porn-industry parasite!

Of course, there's a difference between gay porn and The New York Times. People will actually pay money to look at gay porn.

vbspurs said...

I have several iPhone "news apps" (as well as their own app) where they act as news aggregators -- I can read the Times' articles there.

I'm sure they'll charge now for the download of the app, like they did my iPhone app Crossword subscription.

I bought it, IIRC, for $6.99. I thought it was a deal, since one pays much more than that for online access to Will Short's puzzles.

Then, they suddenly changed tack and asked us to pay all over again for the app -- to extend the subscription past December '09. I paid $16.99 for a whole year's subscription, but that's above what I think it's worth for a mere app. Don't think I'll do so again.

The Grey Lady loses...again.

Cheers,
Victoria

Fen said...

I don't know why anyone would pay for media today

The problem is that the MSM has set itself up as your Information Broker. They want to be paid GateKeepers in a world that no longer has fences.

Peter V. Bella said...

There are only two people who can save the New York Times. Carl Icahn and Rupert Murdoch!

Peter V. Bella said...

There are only two people who can save the New York Times. Carl Icahn and Rupert Murdoch!

Kensington said...

I'm really glad they're doing this, and I'm looking forward to the spectacular failure.

vbspurs said...

Palladian wrote, with that laser light common sense and wit of his:

When you link to something, you get paid. Why not advocate this model for the legitimate blogging industry?

Paying for a blogger to link would actually give them traffic, which is what happens now. But the Grey Lady thinks so well of herself, that she believes it's a honour and a privilege for people to read her, and they should have to pay for that privilege.

Look, I'm all for an entity making money, but then I'm a free-market capitalist. They are a left-leaning paper. Their whole ethos is predicated on not liking the capitalist system. Having allowed their site to be free until now, whilst still having subscribers paying for home content was a happy medium between both philosophies.

But they are bleeding subscribers, not because of the internet, but because we, the reading public, have a long last any number of sites we can get our news from, which reflect OUR politics, not theirs.

That's why they're failing, and will continue to fail. Their particular brand of politics is both elitist, and leftist. It's a combustible mix, and they shouldn't be surprised if it blows up in their face.

Cheers,
Victoria

HT said...

"Their whole ethos is predicated on not liking the capitalist system."

Their WHOLE ethos?

I hardly think so.

Beth said...

I don't care too much about the NYT, but I do want my local paper to keep publishing, and reporting. Local bloggers are useful, and here we have a couple that do some very, very good investigative work. But blogging is not a substantive substitute for a local press.

I expect there will be some kind of pay model eventually, once the right delivery system comes about. I imagine something out of Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age, a digital paper format, or a large, cheap tablet reader. I would find a digital mockup of a newspaper layout appealing, complete with print ads and comics and images - less hyperlinking and more of a real page feel, but without the production costs that, as Der Hahn points out, exceeds the subscription fee. I'd pay for such a thing in the range of what I pay now for the paper on my doorstep.

Perhaps such a model would maintain a free access website with local and national headlines, and make the pay content richer both in substance and visual experience, without cutting off readers outside of the regional subscription base.

vbspurs said...

They want to be paid GateKeepers in a world that no longer has fences.

Get ready for the .pdf of the NYT to be available on torrent sites, after this decision. People will NOT be denied -- it's this generation's mantra.

The tragedy of the new millenium is that there is no such thing as respect for intellectual property rights. Well, it's tragic for those of us who have a sense of right and wrong (even when we're doing wrong).

vbspurs said...

Their WHOLE ethos?

Ahh, so you are one of those who believe, HT, that because the Grey Lady has David Brooks as their resident conservative free-market capitalist, that that makes them "neutral"?

By that metric, Fox News is liberal because they have Geraldo Rivera on.

vbspurs said...

But blogging is not a substantive substitute for a local press.

I don't disagree, but I think that if local bloggers take up the cause in earnest, I would MUCH rather read them than any local Miami Horrible.

I refuse to subscribe to that lefty rag, and the righty version in Spanish, is just as bad.

HT said...

vbspurs said...

Ahh, so you are one of those who believe, HT, that because the Grey Lady has David Brooks as their resident conservative free-market capitalist, that that makes them "neutral"?

__-

Not at all. It's not a matter of who is writing where. You said the NYT's WHOLE ethos is PREDICATED on not liking the capitalist system.

My questioning that has nothing to do with Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, or whoever. It has to do with what the NYT's whole ethos in fact is.

HT said...

I might just add that the NYT's having Dowd, Brooks, Friedman on their payroll is very much evidence that their whole ethos is in fact not predicated on hating the capitalistic system.

vbspurs said...

It has to do with what the NYT's whole ethos in fact is.

Well, we could check out the Opinion section for their editorial line going on several years. Want to count how many articles express a wariness of the free-market capitalist system, versus those who don't?

I used one of those bad words, 'whole', which is too broad a brushstroke when making a point. But in the NYT's case, HT, I'll stand by it.

vbspurs said...

Dowd, Brooks, Friedman on their payroll is very much evidence that their whole ethos is in fact not predicated on hating the capitalistic system

I actually want you to keep thinking that because they have that trio, they are not a left-leaning outfit in economics, because it'll bring down the NYT quicker than not.

Never mind that their resident ECONOMIST is lefty, but hey, he's not a communist so how left can they really be, eh? Yes, do keep thinking this way folks.

We'll dance on the NYT's grave yet.

El Pollo Real said...

I don't care too much about the NYT, but I do want my local paper to keep publishing, and reporting.

I follow a twitter feed for local news and it's actually quite good. In the future, I'd be willing to pay a nominal fee for that.

HT said...

Wow Victoria, I just am not sure we can really go much further here. It's a difference between someone who cares not one whit about the NYT editorialists and goes there more for photos, health, local, transit, and the more obscure articles (I never read the mainline writers, or never say never, but rarely), and someone who has what appears to be an all out hatred of them.

I understand the passion.

In this particular case, I just don't feel it.

I hope we or you never get to dance on their grave, as I have an appreciation for what they do, and from time to time, find it very useful.

For me it's not either or. I also appreciate reasoned critiques of anything I like.

AJ Lynch said...

The NYT and others regularly are invited to participate in conference calls organized by special interest groups...like the Environmental Defense Fund or The Pew Foundation or Planned Parenthood. And out of that call,the NYT and many other lamestream media prints a "news" story!

WTF don't the they just give the special interest group invitation and call-in phone number to their readers?

El Pollo Real said...

AJ Lynch said: "lamestream"

Good one AJ!

wv: "gedcatin" What you get if you drop out of high school and go back and take the GED.

El Pollo Real said...

OT but is anybody liveblogging the GG's tonight or will it interfere with football?

vbspurs said...

I hope we or you never get to dance on their grave, as I have an appreciation for what they do, and from time to time, find it very useful.

Whilst it is wrong to say that Fidel Castro is the product of fetishistic reportage by NYT columnist Herbert Matthews, he certainly made Castro's revolution seem like something less evil, more charismatic, more praiseworthy than it was.

It followed the same path as Walter Duranty's reporting from the Soviet Union, where he downplayed the genocidal practises by Stalin in the 30s, in the Ukraine (due to Stalin confiscating grain from Ukrainians).

I could go on, but you get my point.

I will NEVER forgive the NYT for what they have written in the name of "paper of record" reporting.

AJ Lynch said...

ElPollo"

Screw the GG's, 24 makes its two hour debut tonight.

I hear Jack Bauer tries and executes an underwear bomber in the first five minutes.

Fen said...

I hope we or you never get to dance on their grave, as I have an appreciation for what they do, and from time to time, find it very useful.

Only if you consider Propaganda Whores to be useful. Perhaps Soros or Chavez will be their sugardaddy.

vbspurs said...

I'm thinking of catching "24"'s debut tonight, but have never watched a single minute of the show. You think it'll be a problem? I couldn't imagine taking up "Mad Men" for example, without having watched the previous 3 seasons, which I finally did.

Fen said...

... goes there more for photos, health, local, transit, and the more obscure articles (I never read the mainline writers, or never say never, but rarely), and someone who has what appears to be an all out hatred of them.

I understand the passion.

In this particular case, I just don't feel it.


ie. you understand where the soap comes from, and you still use it.

AJ Lynch said...

Vick:

I did not watch 24 for the first 2-3 seasons but love it anyhoo!

It's like an an old western - good vs. evil.

vbspurs said...

Brilliant, AJ, thanks so much. Will watch it and let the GG be damn'd. :)

Jason (the commenter) said...

Right now you have to open an account with them to read their articles for free, and I refuse to do that!

Mysteriously though, I'm often able to see linked to articles. I wonder if the same thing would happen once the wall goes up, if "the wall" would just be for suckers.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I appreciate that Althouse will retain her aloofness towards the NYT, even though they give her traffic sometimes.

mariner said...

Five words, eh?

And notice that each word has three letters.

;)

Steven said...

Meh. The bottom line is that the NYTimes isn't worth a subscription when you can get the AP, AFP, Reuters, and a wide variety of general-interest newspapers in the world for free on Google News.

---

But what if the newspapers unite against Google?

Google's cash-on-hand exceeds, by a factor of twenty, the combined total market capitalization of the McClatchy Company (MNI), GateHouse Media (GHSE), E. W. Scripps Company (SSP), Lee Enterprises (LEE), Media General (MEG), and A. H. Belo (AHC).

So, Google could, out of petty cash, buy all six, and own 213 daily newspapers, somewhere over a thousand other periodicals, and 28 broadcast television stations. A plenty-adequate resource base for launching its own national paper to rival the NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, and USA Today (the U.S. flagship papers of the New York Times Company, News Corp, Washington Post Company, and Gannet).

mariner said...

vbspurs:
The tragedy of the new millenium is that there is no such thing as respect for intellectual property rights.

I dissent.

I believe the tragedy of the new millenium is that some people have a far too expansive view of "intellectual property" and what they should be paid for it.

The lack of respect you decry is simply a disagreement between rent seekers and the rest of us.

mariner said...

HT:
Not at all. It's not a matter of who is writing where. You said the NYT's WHOLE ethos is PREDICATED on not liking the capitalist system.

I'll let Victoria speak for herself.

I would say that the NYT's whole ethos is to benefit from the capitalist system while sneering at others who do.

That's the leftist schtick, perfected by Michael Moore.

Jeremy said...

contrary to the "Queen" and he lyoal subject Meade...uh, Needy...

Former President George W. Bush pushed back Sunday against criticism -- levied most prominently by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh -- that his successor, President Barack Obama, was somehow politicizing the disastrous earthquake in Haiti.

"I don't know if -- what they're talking about," Bush declared during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I've been briefed by the President about the response. And as I said in my opening comment, I appreciate the president's quick response to this disaster."

Anton said...

They tried this with their Op-Ed page a while back, and the result was that no one read their writers. I predict the same here. Of course, no serious person reads the New York Times even when it's free, but that's another subject altogether...

David said...

“As we got into it, it was clear to me I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition,” Friedman recently told me by phone."

This guy is supposed to be the country's greatest expert on the rest of the world. What an incredibly idiotic and revealing quote. This is the first thing that would come to mine, if he wern't locked in the NYT-MSM bubble during the day and his $8 million mansion at night.

vbspurs said...

Well, the one thing I can say is, Anton, is that I took the Times when I had a free 14-day subscription to it on my Kindle.

Cancelled it shortly after because I wasn't going to pay around 13.99 for it in that format...

vbspurs said...

The lack of respect you decry is simply a disagreement between rent seekers and the rest of us.

The difference is that those who take whole songs, albums and movies on torrent sites or Rapidshare, are not even renters. There is no contract that they enter with the producers of content. It's just plain theft.

I agree totally, BTW, with your 5:08 comment about the NYT's sneering.

Clorinda said...

Pretty easy for me...I do not read anything that wants money...Besides, the Times is the least reliable paper I can think of

Steve Bartin said...

The NYT is going to try yet again to get people to pay for on line content. When they tried TimesSelect I stopped reading their Op-Ed page on a regular basis. I realized the WSJ and WP had better writers. The NYT is going to try again, who knows if it will work . But, what's guaranteed is less site traffic. It's hard to compete when someone else is giving information away for free. If you aren't reading Dowd, Friedman, and Brooks you aren't missing a whole lot.

Joe M. said...

This made me laugh out loud:
[TimesSelect] exposed a rift between Sulzberger and his roster of A-list columnists, particularly ... Maureen Dowd.

I cannot imagine paying to read Dowd's tripe.

I only read the NYT because it's free online. As soon as they ask me for money, I'll just go pay for the WSJ instead. It's a far better paper, and I've been meaning to purchase a subscription anyway.

grinder said...

Gee, you're going to have to pay for a product? How ... how ... unfair!

Michael said...

I would like to see this happen and work... because it will bring the day that somebody launches a full global alternative to the NYT closer.

Michael said...

"I'm thinking of catching "24"'s debut tonight, but have never watched a single minute of the show. You think it'll be a problem? I couldn't imagine taking up "Mad Men" for example, without having watched the previous 3 seasons, which I finally did."

You can pick up 24 with no problem, I'm sure, it's pretty much a thriller and the characters don't matter so much from season to season. The real issue is, many 24 seasons suck for the first 8 weeks, then the question is, do they recover or suck even worse for the remainder? Personally, I would go rent season 1 or season 4, the best two by far, and see if I liked it at its best. Last season was miserably poor, I would not chance it as my first exposure.

Penny said...

"So, Google could, out of petty cash, buy all six, and own 213 daily newspapers, somewhere over a thousand other periodicals, and 28 broadcast television stations. A plenty-adequate resource base for launching its own national paper to rival the NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, and USA Today (the U.S. flagship papers of the New York Times Company, News Corp, Washington Post Company, and Gannet)."

Interesting. So, is Google TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Steven said...

Actually, no, Grinder, the problem here is not that I'd have to pay for a product. It's that the New York Times is trying to make me pay them for giving them a product to sell.

You see, I am the product. News web sites sell me—my time and attention—to advertisers. They buy my attention by writing stuff I'm interested in reading.

When they make the mistake of trying to charge me for giving them my attention, they stop getting it. They then lose money, because they no longer have a product to sell.

If they can't figure out how to make money by buying my attention and selling it to advertisers, well, hey, too bad. It's not my fault if they're incompetent in their chosen business, and I'm not going to subsidize them.

Chris Kitze said...

The New York Times-- "the junk-bond issuing, Mexican-controlled New York Times"--continues to decline. (from a comment on a blog). It's simply irrelevant.

Penny said...

On another note, netizens love to believe that information screams out to be FREE!

Oh? Do we agree with that here at Althouse?

I'm curious for your opinions on this.

Steven said...

Nah, not too big to fail, Penny. Nobody is.

But the newspapers are too small and weak to win a straight-up fight with Google.

Mister Snitch! said...

I think a different model, which has not been discussed, will be made possible by Apple's new tablet. If the tablet (or whatever it will be called) succeeds, it will eventually replace most of the dead-tree version of the Times. You'll pay for NY Times' content, designed specifically for the tablet, same way you now pay for the printed paper.

Once a certain saturation level is achieved (think of how the cell-phone has replaced land lines - I'm talking a sea change of that order), and the newsPAPER is more or less non-extant, the Times will maintain a bare-bones, non-tablet online version. No pics, no video, no sidebars, and possibly no cultural commentary. But all the straight, text-only news you'd want to link to will be there. Archives, too, though they might make you pay past a certain date.

For all the frills, and for the community that surrounds the news, you'd have to subscribe to the tablet-optimized version.

Apple's going to make a fortune on this thing. They've basically reinvented the printing press.

Hyphenated American said...

The real question is when Obama will start giving subsidies to NYT and the rest of the legacy media. This is the only thing that can save them. Which, btw, also explains why media loved Obam so much - he is their savior.

George said...

Pitch is such a perfect example of the idiot child of elites syndrome.

The Ghost said...

Are the people who write and report the news--that you in turn use to fill your own blog--suddenly of lesser value?

Why, yes, actually. I can read a dozen different reports and thousands of editorials on anything of importance that happens in this country. All those sources need my eyeballs for advertising revenue. Thus, the value of any one source is "suddenly" of lesser value (in fact, of zero value) if by "suddenly" you mean over the last 15 years.

As for coverage of the rest of the rest of the planet, the Times, like most US papers, skimps heavily to leave more money for the political columnists and news "analysts" they perceive to be more profitable. If that's the case, more power to them, but you can't seriously expect someone to pay for that.

As always (assuming Obama doesn't ride to the rescue of his allies with our money), the market will render final judgment. If we can keep getting news for free from somewhere, the overwhelming majority will opt for that route. If we have to pay, we eventually will.

Penny said...

"Pitch is such a perfect example of the idiot child of elites syndrome."

George, I have no clue what this means, but I sure would like to understand better.

Can you clarify for me, please?

Penny said...

"Nah, not too big to fail, Penny. Nobody is."

OK, Stephen, so you think Google is not too big to fail. But we already know that certain financial organizations were precisely that, not to mention, auto companies.

Penny said...

"Why, yes, actually. I can read a dozen different reports and thousands of editorials on anything of importance that happens in this country. All those sources need my eyeballs for advertising revenue."

And doesn't that make you wonder why the advertisers don't set about eliminating those pesky middle men?

Steven said...

Don't anthropomorphize information. It hates that.

And, well, it's obviously true in the practical sense that the cost of disseminating information on the Internet is low, and thus with time and publicity the market value rapidly decays to zero.

Treating a simple fact as if it were a great moral crusade, however, is just stupid.

Steven said...

The auto companies still haven't proven that. Too big to be allowed to die when they should, sure; that doesn't make them immune to failure. Look at the British auto industry.

And it's Steven, with a V.

grinder said...

@Steven, if you don't want to pay to read the NYT, then don't read it. Novel concept, eh?

grinder said...

I mean, it's hard to dredge up a whole lot of sympathy for people who on the one hand claim to hate the NYT and who on the other hand complain that they can't read it for free.

Penny said...

Sorry about that misspell, Steven.

Now back to the discussion.

My point was merely that we have no problem allowing big to get bigger, UNTIL it suits us no longer.

And that is the real bitch about it, frankly. Usually when anything gets that big that we finally notice how that might not be in our best interests, it is nearly too late to stop the "BIG" without some serious personal and collective pain.

Steven said...

Grinder:

Oh, yes, I won't read it. And neither will most of the rest of the world. And thus the New York Times hurls itself off the cliff of relevance, to join the New York Herald, Detroit Times, and Los Angeles Examiner.

The Ghost said...

"And doesn't that make you wonder why the advertisers don't set about eliminating those pesky middle men?"

Cute, but the fact remains that when hundreds - if not thousands - of papers with a web presence essentially offering the same service, there's bound to be a market correction.

If you like, take "market correction" as a euphemism for "mass closings and layoffs," but the fact remains that people don't get their news from the local convenience store any more, they get it on the web. You (that is, we) don't need thousands of companies to deliver the same news any longer. Hence, many are going out of business.

I have no idea if the NYT's paywall will prove to be a good idea, only that it doesn't present me a service I would, or even "should," pay for. To put it shortly, the Times "reporting" is increasingly opinion or "news analysis," which I think we can all agree really IS worthless. While I don't have access to the Times accounting sheet, I think it's fairly obvious that the Times is the GM of the news industry, the company spending the most money on things that its readers are the least interested in paying for.

Penny said...

So who IS providing the hard news these days?

Penny said...

And I wasn't meaning to be "cute" when I questioned why the advertisers wouldn't want to get rid of the middlemen who we claim are not bringing us hard news anyway.

Isn't that what's happening?

In the end, bloggers may find that they have more in common with the MSM than they thought.

Fr. Philip Powell, OP said...

I won't read the NYT now...why would I pay to read what the White House and the DNC are eager to tell me for free?

Fr. Philip, OP

Steven said...

Penny —

Stop and think it through logically. The content businesses are paying for my eyeballs with their content. How are the advertisers going to pay me for my eyeballs?

Sure, they could go into the content business themselves. And then they'd be subject to all the economics of the content business. Coca-Cola is not, as a corporation, designed to make movies or do investigative journalism. It's downright difficult to simultaneously manage such disparate businesses, and it's hard for Wall Street to know how to value a company that both makes sugared water and printed a newspaper. They're better off buying ads on TV programs and on websites and in newspapers other people make than trying to cut out the middleman.

I mean, Coca-Cola could also try to cut out the middleman by building their own retail stores and going into competition with Wal-Mart. Cutting out the middleman often seems like it would improve efficiencies, but it usually has the problem of eliminating the advantages of specialization. It's generally the stupid choice.

grinder said...

Oh, yes, I won't read it.

Well good for you! Now you won't have anything to complain about.

And neither will most of the rest of the world.

Since when has "most of the rest of the world" ever read the NYT?

rhhardin said...

They ought to charge for the annoucement.

Fen said...

grinder: I mean, it's hard to dredge up a whole lot of sympathy for people who on the one hand claim to hate the NYT and who on the other hand complain that they can't read it for free.

He's not complaining that he cant read it for free, he's saying its a dumbass business decision.

Why are you so hot and bothered by this? Do you work for the NYTS?

demian said...

The NYT has been emboldened by Murdoch's line the sand, drawn in recent weeks with regard to sites using his stuff. The AP has found its backbone too, renegotiating terms with Yahoo and going dark at Google News until GOOG offers more $$.

And hey, if WSJ.com can charge for content, why not the NYT.com?

There are a few reasons. The WSJ.com can *make* you money if you read it regularly. No other U.S. paper focuses so keenly on economics, investment and business. And WSJ.com covers politics too.

And NYT.com? Well, it offers left-wing opinion pieces and general news tinged with the same. To use biz-school lingo, what's the value proposition? Many, many newspaper sites offer these things for little or nothing. NYT.com's news is a commodity.

It will be interesting to see how NYT.com's second attempt at for-pay goes, and what lessons it deduces from a repeat of the first outcome.

steven edward streight said...

Paid Content Online, especially for something as generic as news, especially for something as discredited as mainstream journalism...

is Anti-Web, Anti-Linking, and Un-bloggable.

This will greatly decrease their readership, citations, and links from relevant blogs, thus also decrease their Search Engine Optimization.

Farewell NY Times. It was sometimes nice knowing you.

somefeller said...

It will be interesting to see how NYT.com's second attempt at for-pay goes, and what lessons it deduces from a repeat of the first outcome.

It will be tough sledding either way, as print or print-primary media is pretty obviously a dying industry. If ideology were the only issue here, the Washington Times would be booming, and it clearly isn't (Google some stories about layoffs there, etc.). And we'll leave aside whether a newspaper that employed Judith Miller to do her thing on the news pages for so long is much of a leftist paper.

The thing that was so ridiculous about Times Select is that the one thing there is no shortage of for free on the internet is informed opinion. Why would I pay to read someone's political or cultural opinions (investment tips are another thing) when I can get such things for free from any number of good sources?

Hard news / in-depth on-site journalism is the thing the NY Times has going for them that's unique, and that's what they should have tried selling early on, like the Wall Street Journal. They may be able to pull this off, but I'm not confident of that, given the timing.

Steven said...

Now, Fen, that's not polite.

I mean, it's much, much easier to treat all commenters who criticize the NYT in any way as if they were a single Borg-like entity led by Ann, instead of as individuals with different, divergent opinions.

I mean, if you look at them as individuals, you first have to spend effort keeping each one straight. Then, since you're thinking of them as individuals, it's harder to hold them in the contempt necessary. And finally, it's much, much harder to catch the critics in contradictions, because an individual critic is less likely to contradict himself than to contradict some other critic.

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