Nobody Appreciates All the Grey Lady’s Hard Work!!!

From guess what publication, “Times’s Online Pay Model Was Years in the Making“:

The Times announced its new subscription plan last week to widespread debate. Many readers and bloggers said they were happy to be able to finally pay for their frequent use of the Web sites, while many others — joined by some industry analysts and pundits — said that The Times was dangerously out of step with the digital age and that the approach was doomed to fail.
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The same debate raged inside The Times, with executives and senior editors sometimes heatedly taking sides. In the middle was Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the company, who grew to embrace the idea of a pay model. But he was opposed by several senior executives, especially those who had worked to build NYTimes.com into the most visited newspaper site in the world.
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The risks were manifold. The company might jeopardize its huge online reach, and no one could predict what would happen to digital advertising, which had gone from being a drop in the bucket to more than a quarter of The New York Times Company’s overall advertising revenue…
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Executives studied a variety of online business models including those used by Weight Watchers, which charges $17.95 a month plus a $29.95 initiation fee for weight loss guidance, and Apple’s iTunes service, which popularized the micropayment with the 99-cent song download. They even looked at a donation model and at creating a digital newsstand where people could buy The Times as part of a bundle with subscriptions to local papers and national papers like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post…
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“I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,” said Jill Abramson, The Times’s managing editor for news. “In terms of ensuring our future success, it was important to put that to the test.”

So… I guess this is the Big Media equivalent of that sitcom episode where Mom gets the idea into her head that the family needs more variety / sophistication / nutrition, so she works and plans and slaves over a hot stove for hours to put together a complicated menu involving ingredients that she can barely pronounce (complete with hilarious misunderstandings-at-the-local-supermarket segment). When she finally serves up the results, still smoking slightly from the kooky burnt-potholder sight gags, everybody just stares at it… until Hapless Dad or the Middle-Kid Straight Man says something dubious like “What are the little green bits?” or “Is it supposed to quiver like that?” And then there is a Big Comic Explosion, and door-slammings, and if there’s still an extra few minutes to fill, hijinks involving either burnt toaster waffles or a bollixed pizza delivery.

I hope the Times will be offering a “smart app” for “multiple platforms” of Artie Jr. storming off to the corner office, followed by the sound of gusty sobs leaking around the edges of its hand-crafted zebrawood door. Because it is always a good marketing decision to give the customers what they really want.






34 replies
  1. 1
    Ija says:

    I know it’s fun to make fun of NYT, and god knows they probably deserve it, but I still think it is the best thing we have in the MSM. Let’s face it, when it comes to the VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE in the government, there are only 3 newspapers that count: NYT, WaPo and Wall Street Journal. Would the world be a better place tomorrow if NYT folds and VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE in our government are left to rely on WaPo and Wall Street Journal? I really doubt it. So a little support for the best of the worsts might not be such a bad thing.

  2. 2
    sukabi says:

    yeah sure bloggers and other folks were begging to pay for content they already get free… give me a break… how’d the NY Times Select scheme work out? So successfully that they dumped it after a year… This isn’t a plan that’s been years in the making… it’s a failed plan they pulled out of the crapper and dusted off because Murddoch is trying it with his rags.

  3. 3
    TenguPhule says:

    “Gold for shit! Give us your gold and we’ll write you Shit!!”

    “I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,” said Jill Abramson, The Times’s managing editor for news.

    I’d gladly pay journalism what its worth, let us know when you start!

  4. 4
    Montarvillois says:

    I don’t like it but expect I’ll pay-up. Yesterday Wolcott’s site provided a link to The Times out of London that I discovered already provides a plan similar to what NYT is offering — some free content for the casual reader.

  5. 5

    “I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,”

    I would say that given the effects on the country of the Times’ coverage of stories such as Whitewater, Iraq, and warrantless wiretapping (to name only 3), we’ve already paid plenty.

  6. 6
    JGabriel says:

    Many readers and bloggers said they were happy to be able to finally pay for their frequent use of the Web site …

    Many? A few perhaps, but I find it hard to believe that there is a significant percentage of NYT readers who think, “You know what would make my web browsing experience better? If I could just pay more for it. That’s what I really need right now in these recessionary days, out of work, with unemployment at 10% — more costs.”

    “I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,” said Jill Abramson …

    Me, too: that’s what advertisers are for. And if subscribers aren’t getting an ad free experience, then you’re just ripping them off.

    .

  7. 7
    jak says:

    Well, at least it isn’t as unreadable as the new, redesigned Washington Post site. Its free though.

  8. 8
    Yevgraf (fka Michael) says:

    OT, but fuck Mark Halperin in the ear with a rusty chainsaw.

  9. 9
    Yevgraf (fka Michael) says:

    Oh, and I just learned on CNN that Sarah Palin has just landed in Israel, a key part of her 2012 bid.

    I’m going to start ramming my head into a brick wall now.

  10. 10
    bob h says:

    In defense of the Times, they really earn their keep at times of world crisis like this. Superb coverage of Arab revolts, and they seem to know more about nuclear power and the Fukushima problems than the Tokyo Electric managers.

  11. 11

    Why buy the cow when I can pay for the milk? I have been longing to pay for the milk I have been getting for free because capitalism, bitches!

    ^^I have no idea what that even means.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    Script changing in Yemen. Sounding more like Egypt and Tunisia, less like Saudi-occupied Bahrain.

    Three top Yemeni army commanders have declared their support for anti-government protesters seeking the resignation of the country”s president, Ali Abudullah Saleh.
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    Brigadier Ali Mohsen Saleh, the head of the north western military zone and the head of the first armoured division, said on Monday that he had deployed army units to protect the protesters.
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    Two more commanders rallied behind Brigadier Saleh soon after.
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    Addressing a news conference, Brigadier Saleh said: “Yemen today, is suffering from a comprehensive and dangerous crisis and it is widespread.
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    “Lack of dialogue and oppression of peaceful protesters in the pubclic sphere, resulted in crisis which has increased each day.
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    “And it is because of what I feel about the emotions of officers and leaders in the armed forces, who are an integral part of the people, and protectors of the people, I declare, on their behalf, our peaceful support of the youth revolution and their demands and that we will fulfil our duties.”

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    Much more going on similarly.

    Very recently:

    Abdel-Wahhab Tawaf, Yemen’s ambassador to Syria, resigns from his post and from President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ruling party to support the opposition movement demanding Saleh’s ouster. He spoke to Al Jazeera by phone:
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    “I am resigning after the massacre that happened at the Taghyir (Change) Square.”

    Arab Spring not entirely finished yet.

    Syria, though, is really surprising that anything is going on. Bahrain is basically proclaiming victory against protesters, that they were an outside plot.

    Bahrain’s monarch Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has said that a foreign plot against his kingdom had been foiled and thanked troops brought in from neighbouring countries to help end increasing unrest after weeks of protests.
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    State news agency BNA quoted Khalifa as telling the troops on Sunday night: “An external plot has been fomented for 20 to 30 years until the ground was ripe for subversive designs … I here announce the failure of the fomented plot.”
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    King Hamad told the forces that if such a plot succeeded in one Gulf Arab country, it could spill into neighbouring states, BNA said.

  14. 14
    dr. bloor says:

    This doesn’t make no never mind to me, since I already subscribe to the dead-tree edition. But if online advertising already accounted for a quarter of their ad revenue, this strikes me as being pretty dumb.

  15. 15
    cmorenc says:

    @El Cid: King Hamid’s comments on the Bahrain “plot” reminds me of the old joke about Marie Antoinette’s supposed reply when her court advisor informed her that: “your highness, the people are revolting!”. She replied: “Yes, they are“.

  16. 16
    Mo's Bike Shop says:

    If the truth wants to be free, then it makes sense to offer the NYT by subscription (with apologies to Bike Snob)

  17. 17
    Anne says:

    I can’t really afford it right now, but I’m willing to pay for the full online access I’ve been getting for free. It just seems fair to me, given that (among other reasons) the Times has to have lost revenue for print subscriptions as more and more people dump it for the ability to read online. Overall it is the best newspaper in the world when you consider all it offers. And, yes, I take issue with much of its news coverage (Judy Miller, etc.) and some of the editorial crew (Dowd, Brooks, Douhat, Friedman….). But I don’t get why so many people think access should be completely cost-free.

  18. 18
    VERBERNE says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/ if you want news about Israel

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian for news from a liberal newspaper in the UK

    The Times is a neo-conservative rag; yet, you want to pay for that!

  19. 19
    JD_PhD says:

    Already a twitter feed of all NTY articles, which should let anyone hop the paywall: @timeswiretap

  20. 20
    Zifnab says:

    I don’t know if the NYT already offers this model, but why not just do the “Pay to get ads off my screen” program? If I read the NYT regularly, I’d happily front $10-15 per month to get rid of all the obnoxious advertisements.

  21. 21
    Dustin says:

    @Zifnab: Funny, those are the only site terms I even consider buying a subscription to. But then I consider that a worthwhile service and one that’s fair. This whole double-dipping crap? Nah, I don’t think so. That’s the reason I switched to watching third and fourth window releases through Hulu. I get only so much time in my day where I can sit down and consume anything, I’m not going to waste it on advertisements when I’m already paying for the content.

    It’s one or the other NYT. Make your choice.

  22. 22
    TrishB says:

    @Zifnab: Who pays for that? It’s free when using Firefox or Chrome.

  23. 23
    Roy G says:

    It might be a good deal, IF they removed all the rightwing / lobbyist / military agitprop from the pay version.

    btw, I WAS as Times subscriber; loved the Sunday edition, but finally had enough of their whoredom. There are indeed good reporters at the Times, but they are sabotaged by their pimpy management.

  24. 24
    Dustin says:

    @TrishB: Doesn’t always work without crapping out the site they’re on. That, and it’s an honest trade.

    I know, perish the thought. We either look at ads or buy a subscription/donate to support the site. Quite frankly I don’t see the difference between people who scrape out the ads on news sites and people who still pirate their music in the era of digital downloads.

    It’s not a viable business model, but it is a fair-trade transaction and one I’ll gladly participate in on sites I wish to support.

  25. 25
    different church-lady says:

    no one could predict what would happen to digital advertising, which had gone from being a drop in the bucket to more than a quarter of The New York Times Company’s overall advertising revenue…

    Only a quarter? I’m surprised by that. At this point you’d think it would be a lot more, considering how thin print newspapers are nowadays.

    I picked up a copy of Newsweek that was lying around at the gym yesterday. Without exaggeration, the thing had no more than six ads in the entire issue. Six.

    That being said, I still haven’t seen any of the “new-media” cheerleaders give a convincing argument as to why a digital newspaper ought to be free — other than this is the way it’s been, and… it just should.

  26. 26
    TrishB says:

    @Dustin: Fair point. I’d rather pay for the subscription itself, which it looks like I’ll be doing by the end of the month. I still pay for my music and ebooks, but the ads on some websites make them close to unreadable, while the ads in the print version are quite painless to ignore.

  27. 27
    different church-lady says:

    @TrishB: Not only that, but you can line the birdcage with the print edition.

  28. 28
    ThresherK says:

    @JGabriel: You know what would make my web browsing experience better? If I could just pay more for it. That’s what I really need right now in these recessionary days, out of work, with unemployment at 10% — more costs.

    Now, Jay, that’s just a way of weeding out the riffraff. I’ll gladly create the rumor which says that soon they’ll stop selling the print edition to people who aren’t rich enough to nod knowingly over the Autos article fretting over the choice between the BMW M3 and Audi S4. For their twenty-year-old.

  29. 29
    Pongo says:

    @Anne: Because it is not ‘free.’ That’s why we are subjected to an ever-increasing onslaught of online ads. The Times wants to double-dip like the print media has done for years by getting ad revenue, plus subscriber fees. Nothing wrong with that, except we aren’t getting a hard copy that requires additional physical resources to produce and deliver and they should have started out with this model, not waited until the entire world was accustomed to getting news online without paying extra fees. They are moving backwards in a progressive area and it almost certainly won’t work. Besides, they tried this before for ‘premium’ content (columnists) and it failed within months.

    Plus, they over-estimate their superior quality, IMO. After subscribing for more than 25 years I finally gave up on them–it took a lot, I weathered the Judith Miller idiocy and sat tight as they capitulated to the false equivalencies of an increasingly ridiculous right, but too often their reporting was of the mindless ilk we can get on 24 hour cable news, so why pay extra for it? I think they have a handful of excellent reporters, but a really good piece once every other month or so simply doesn’t justify subscribing full time–in print or online–for me.

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    @JGabriel:

    Many? A few perhaps, but I find it hard to believe that there is a significant percentage of NYT readers who think, “You know what would make my web browsing experience better? If I could just pay more for it. That’s what I really need right now in these recessionary days, out of work, with unemployment at 10% — more costs.”

    There are all kinds of problems with the Times’ new model. From what I’ve seen, people who read the Times on the iPad or who read it on both an iPad and an iPad (or other tablet) would end up paying more for the paper than people who subscribe to the physical edition. This is nuts. More nuts that the Times is trying to rationalize this by saying that iPad readers spend more time with the paper and so should pay more. In the old days, newspapers and magazines would charge advertisers more for delivering premium subscribers, so to charge readers more because they spend more time with your publication borders on the absurd.

    Even more strange, unless the Times changes some access issues, people who use Twitter or Bing can find ways to easily get around the 20 story limit.

    I can understand the Times trying to find a way to survive in a changing environment, but their “solution” may only end up speeding their demise.

    As an aside, Richard Branson’s monthly iPad magazine, Project, is now free thanks to ad support. Go figure.

  31. 31
    Stolen Dormouse says:

    My peeve about all this is that the Times‘ new approach leaves out people who want computer-only (but not smartphone or iPad) access. That is not available, unless you subscribe to the print version! Makes no sense to me.

  32. 32
    Cervantes says:

    “I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,” said Jill Abramson, The Times’s managing editor for news.

    This editor needs an editor.

  33. 33
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Stolen Dormouse: Yeah, that would be me, too. Before the announcement, I figured I’d be willing to pay $10 a month to subsidize Krugman and Gail Collins. But I balk at spending more than that to pay for print copies that I don’t want — the last thing we need in our house or the recycling bin is more pulp!

    The NYT’s crafty mid-90s effort to “force” Boston Globe readers to switch over by ruining the Globe’s subscription service only gave me the impetus to end a 30-year multiple-daily-paper addiction. Their crafty new effort to “force” me into subscribing to a print NYTimes may just give me the impetus to stop reading the NYT online.

    I have the feeling that Weight Watchers or iTunes are just not the best marketing models here, frankly.

  34. 34
    Oregon Beer Snob says:

    I can hear David Brooks annoying voice on NPR for free. Why would I pay to read his words? If they gave me an option to get a paper without Brooks, Dowd, Douthat, Friedman, etc., I might consider paying for that.

    There should be some sort of “a la carte” option where we can pay a small fee for just the content of theirs we like. The free market folks should love that. I have a feeling the resulting paper would look much different than the current version if that were the case.

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