October 4, 2005

TimesSelect: a disaster?

I keep checking the NYT list of the "Most E-Mailed Articles," which used to be dominated by the op-ed columnists that you now must pay $50 a year to read. Today's list of the top 25 stories from the last 24-hours lacks a single TimesSelect item.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Maureen Dowd makes the list (at #6) with a piece about the Miers nomination. Here's the key bon mot:
W. is asking for a triple leap of faith. He has faith in Ms. Miers as his lawyer and as a woman who shares his faith. And we're expected to have faith in his faith and her faith, and her opinions that derive from her faith that could change the balance of the court and affect women's rights for the next generation.

That's a little bit too much faith, isn't it?


Too Many Jims said...

What I find odd about the whole Timesselect thing is they made almost the exact opposite decision as the WSJ which lets most of its opinion out there for "free" but makes you subscribe for most of their "reporting".

SippicanCottage said...

Jim's right to find it odd.

News gathering is an enormous undertaking. It takes legions of people, and a large infrastructure. There's a threshold of investment to enter the news business that's very high. It keeps out new players and allows The Times and their ilk to enjoy a certain amount of insularity.

It's a testament to how out of touch the Times is with our galaxy that they think they can charge $50.00 for piffle. Opinions and analysis are the two things that the blogoshere completely took away from newspapers, and they're trying to charge for it, and theirs isn't very good in the first place.

And they laid off 3000 people in their newsrooms last week.

And they say George Bush is dumb- right there on the $50.00 page no-one is reading, every day.

Meade said...

I'm waiting for them to pay me. $50 a year seems low considering all the corrections they expect me to read.

Mark Daniels said...

Selfishly speaking, since I don't subscribe to the NYTimes, I really dislike TimesSelect. Not only does it deny me access to the writing of their columnists, it also blocks me from features I might find interesting.

While it may make some financial sense for the Times to have instituted this policy, I doubt it. As is true of paper-based publications, I have to believe that the Times can make more money off of the advertising that could accompany this restricted material than they ever will from getting people to buy into TimesSelect.

The fact that some of us are upset with this move by the Times is a testimony to the value that we place on the columnists who work for the paper. I've never been a Doud fan. But in spite of his tiresome addiction to creating phrases he hopes others will remember, I like Friedman. I'm particularly fond of Brooks' work. Tierney can be very good at times. The others I don't really like that much.

But the bottom line, as you have suggested, Ann, is that the most important value associated with the columnists from the Times' standpoint is how much they're read and quoted. With TimesSelect, fewer people read them, fewer people quote them, and the Times' influence and desirability are thus diminished.

EddieP said...

IMHO, the less Krugman and Rich get to foul the atmosphere the better. Go TimesSelect

Tim said...

I've noticed that many of the ads found on the Times' website are for TimesSelect. Unless those ads are inspiring lots of folk to sign up for the program, the Times might be losing their ad money as quickly as their columnists are losing their web-capital.

Simon Kenton said...

The CEO draws a 1911A1, racks the slide, chambering a shell, squeezes it firmly to neutralize the grip safety, flicks the manual safety to make sure it's off, and takes aim at his foot.

"This isn't a real .45," he says.

"Certainly not," says the marketing department. "We have focus groups indicating it's not a real .45, and if it were, it wouldn't be loaded, and anyway, it's a customer-driven response to rapidly shifting on-the-ground conditions."

"Even if it were loaded," says the CEO, "I wouldn't shoot it."

"No," says the marketing department, "This is a bold, forward-looking, out-of-the-box move that will consolidate our mastery of a whole new medium which is complementary to our core competencies."

"If I did shoot it," says the CEO, "It wouldn't hurt."

"Absolutely not. Why, the reverse. This demonstrates the nimbleness with which we as a corporate culture confront meta-institutional change," says the marketing department.

"I'm not taking up the slack on the two-stage trigger," says the CEO.

"You sure aren't," says the marketing department. "You're focusing visibility on the bottom line. It's the sort of drive-change pre-emptive niche-creation our shareholders demand from our management ... not just to survive, but to triumph."

The CEO shoots his company's foot off. Secretaries, technical staff, and auditors register pain. The CEO and the marketing department do not.

"It never was a .45, I didn't shoot it, and it doesn't hurt," says the CEO.

"After a period of invevitable adjustment, the consolidations we're making now will put the company on an even sounder footing," says the marketing department.


Bill Gates shoots himself in the foot periodically. But one of the hallmarks of Gates' genius is that he shuts up, listens, and reverses. Cornering the market in stale media; remember that? The flirtation with internet machines? Gates' initiatives that were throttled mercifully in the crib.

Other CEOs shoot themselves in the foot, and take the company down, spouting all the way. Philippe Kahn. Carly Fiorina. Sulzberger, maybe.

As a kind of secretary, tech staffer, auditor or at least investor, and firearms instructor, I welcome the NYT to the self-shooting range.

chuck b. said...

It occurs to me I have no idea what anyone at the New York Times thinks about Harriet Miers. I guess I'm rather uninformed!

Zorpha said...

disaster is right

The Exalted said...

is it possible that the times cares more about $$ than how many times its columnists' columns get emailed?

and is it possible that it would only take a relatively small amount of people to pay for the times select feature to equal the revenues pulled in from the banner advertising attached to free content?

the times is profit going concern, not a library

XWL said...

"TimesSelect: a disaster?"

Duh! (just thought I'd reference a previous comment thread)

This move by the NYT is bad from a business sense given that the influence the NYT exerts beyond the five boroughs is in large part responsible for any attraction any advertisers may have for the print and the web versions.

TimesSelect as long as it continues will decrease their influence and therefore also reduce their attractiveness for advertisers, but I say keep it up, and raise it to $20 a month, cause the less people pay attention to Krugman, Dowd, Friedman et al the better.

Eli Blake said...

However, the Times is still ahead of the rest when it comes to reporting. For example, they were, as far as I know, the only newspaper to name Harriet Miers as the leading contender for a Supreme Court pick several days before it was finalized.