Monday, March 21, 2011

Paying for The New York Times.

I don't know how things got this way, that the internet started and important news sites were given away for free. Not long ago, parts of "The New York Times," like the op-eds, were behind a firewall. You couldn't read the Times' most brilliant writers if you weren't willing to pay for them. Then somewhere along the way the whole thing went free, though if you liked to go into the Times' archives--in which you can find virtually every article ever published in the paper--you would have to pay something extra, unless you subscribed.

In any event, the Times has now decided to charge non-subscribers a fee after they "consume" 20 articles a month.

It seems to me, on this the day four Times' reporters were released after six days of captivity by Libyan troops, that there are few companies or brands that do their job better than the Times does theirs. Sure, we can throw stones. I get upset when I see the Times cover, with great gravity, a rare mushroom found in Bronx River Park.

That said, issue after issue, there is coverage of the events great and small of the world. There are slide shows, analysis, viewpoints from by liberals and conservatives and more. Like I said, name a company that does a better job in their field and does it daily, no matter the weather.

It will be interesting to see if the cool cats will read the Times when they have to start paying. It will be interesting to hear them blather on about the Times' business model and other nonsense.

It seems pretty simple to me. The Times costs a lot of money to make. Online ads are ineffective--they can't get advertisers to pay rates that sustain the coverage the paper provides, so they have to charge to allow people to read it. Except for the last fifteen anomalous years or so, that's the way the world has always worked. It will be interesting to see if it still works that way.


Tore Claesson said...

don't forget that the printed paper relied on advertising to cover its cost, and later also the cost of producing the web version. So much of newspapers ad revenue went online. And unfortunately not to their online versions. Double whammy. I hope New York Times will survive, more than that, thrive. I hope quality journalism will eventually thrive online. And that not all of it will be relying on search engine optimization and other things that effectively interfere with the way a text is presented.

Sean Peake said...

Charging for content won't help when fewer and fewer people care what that content is. Subscribers and advertisers are moving to other venues and the paper will continue to bleed red ink until it folds—or gets a government bailout.