Opinions Differ, They Always Do

Jay Rosen has a good post up about the Times he-said/she-said Breitbart coverage:

The logic of the “we have no idea who’s right” report involves a flight to safety. Confronted with a figure of controversy, for whom there are many knives drawn, the safe choice is to do the Rorschach thing. “Each side sees what they want.” What the story-teller sees is that: two radically incommensurate views.

But at a certain point in the public decay of that style, the equation flips around. The once “safe” choice becomes the riskier option. That point is reached when enough people begin to mistrust viewlessness and demand to know what the writer thinks, even though they also know that they may not agree.

For those people, the “Rorschach” device scans as cluelessness or arrogance, or both. The very risk to reputation that the author wanted to avoid by refusing to stake a truth claim is brought on by… refusing to make a truth claim! Which doesn’t mean that the remedy is to “choose sides.” It’s harder than that. One actually has to make sense and nail things down.

And to make it even trickier, who really knows when this flip-over point has been reached?

I don’t know about the general public, but in the blogs I read and the comments section here, this point was reached long ago. Jay is excited about NPR’s new editorial policy that actually allows reporters to say that a claim made by a politician is false (here’s an example). I’m not as excited, because I see that as a small change in the right direction that’s probably too late.

Mainstream journalism, especially the newspaper variety, is in Kodak territory. They realize that what they’re doing isn’t working, and they’re changing ever-so-slowly to try to catch up, but their competitors have moved so far ahead that the print dinosaurs can’t simultaneously shrink their bloated print business, invest in their digital site, and jettison thirty years of mediocre journalistic practice. Perhaps they’ll follow NPR’s lead and produce more relevant journalism, but their business model is still broken. Paywalls for local papers, which is where Gannett is going in my market, are death. The other local media outlets (mostly TV stations and some alt papers) will cannibalize readership because the product produced by your average Gannett local just isn’t worth much money.

Even the Times paywall is probably a short-lived and tepid success. My free Times subscription lapsed in January, and since then I’ve been subsisting on the twenty or so free views I get every month, mostly out of stubbornness, but also because I want to see what else is out there. I may subscribe, but a business model that expects consumers to subscribe to a digital product for $15/month just isn’t sustainable when a lot of consumers will want to have 3 or 4 subscriptions. Somebody’s going to undercut that — some company is going to do for journalism what Netflix did to cable TV, giving us content from a number of sources for a lot less per month than the incumbents want us to pay. I’m afraid that the big print companies just can’t shrink quickly enough to do that at any kind of a profit.

I just hope that whatever comes out of the shitstorm that’s hitting journalism right now will be able to write a Breitbart obit that says something more than “opinions differ”.

67 replies
  1. 1
    Robert Paehlke says:

    I agree. I paid the NYT their, I think it was $50 per year voluntarily until they gave that up. But $180 per year is way too much and I have read it for 55 years or more pretty faithfully. Twenty clicks a month plus headline scans is enough. I think print paper are the walking dead.

  2. 2
    Bob2 says:

    You know, their paywall isn’t exactly hard to get around by just deleting stuff in the url.

  3. 3
    Bill ORLY says:

    @Bob2: Or, copying the URL and emailing it to yourself. This sometimes hits the paywall, but most of the times does not.

  4. 4
    Gin & Tonic says:

    The NYT also reached a price point for me where I can do without, since I don’t do the dead-tree version. However, there is still a place, I think, for well-written, well-curated news about far-away places or about subject you otherwise wouldn’t read about, even (perhaps especially) if it has a point of view with which you don’t always agree, and that’s hard to get for free. I find my print subscription to the Economist, at about $120/yr gives me that – a paper copy I can read comfortably on the can, and full on-line access to print content plus a lot of on-line-only, like their excellent bloggers.

    The FT or the WSJ do similar, I think, for their target audiences.

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    Well, it’s a fact that opinions differ about Breitbart. However, ‘opinions differ’ is not an informative fact about him (in the sense that information is something you didn’t already know), and it’s certainly not the only fact that needs to be brought out.

  6. 6
    Henry Bayer says:

    You don’t know how to get around the NYT paywall? During the download of the article, first the article appears, then the latest advertisement for the header, then the paywall freeze. Stop the page load during the advertisement header and the freeze never happens. It’s a matter of timing.

  7. 7
    Guster says:

    Some company is going to do for journalism what Netflix did to cable TV, giving us content from a number of sources for a lot less per month than the incumbents want us to pay.

    That works fine, if the production side is also like cable TV, with millions of subscribers. But barring that, how does this work? Some production company films a couple seasons of The Wire on spec? Intrepid reporters turn themselves into Seymour Hersh or Charlie Savage without years or decades of institutional backing?

    I imagine this will work out eventually, but we are going to miss the broken-model mainstream journalism like crazy in the Uninformed Valley of this creative destruction.

  8. 8
    El Tiburon says:

    Somebody’s going to undercut that—some company is going to do for journalism what Netflix did to cable TV, giving us content from a number of sources for a lot less per month than the incumbents want us to pay.

    Bingo. I would love (maybe) to see some kind of bundling of multimedia providers (podcasts,blogs, etc.) rolled into something I could subscribe to.

    Perhaps have a list of blogs you could select. I have no problem paying a small fee for a bundle of good shit.

  9. 9
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    While there are various reasons for the current state of our transactional analysis press, the most potent and difficult to remedy is the sheer number of news outlets these days, that have exploded with the internet.

    And we see the dangers of treating news like a marketplace for profit. Everyone wants to ingratiate themselves to this or that potential consumer/group of their info product, and no one wants to alienate same. So we get neverending, I’m Okay, You’re okay coverage, which cancels out the 4th estate role in a democracy of being a truth teller to power.

    NPR is mostly a public entity and good for them maybe realizing they can largely bypass the news for profit thing, and tell us what we need to know to govern ourselves. I doubt it goes much further than them though. Though it is still a largely “Mulder World” of, “the truth is out there’ you just have to spend more time looking for it. Most won’t do this, so here we are.

  10. 10
    mistermix says:

    I know how to get around the paywall. I won’t do it — if I’m going to use the Times, I’m going to pay for it. I’m just seeing whether I need to use it, mostly as an experiment.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    Bundling a few good paywall subs together: that came up in the readers’ comment response to the LATimes plan to take their product behind an expensive paywall.

    This is my first week without a digital NYTimes sub. (Thank you for the tips on eluding the paywall. May give them a try.)

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    While the current political media industry is hurting, it will not go away while their sources – politicians and their aids – treat them as more valuable than blogs and web-only media. Which is also why a lot of the existing media are willing to just accept what the politicians say at face value. So, having NPR, and hopefully other sources, change its reporting methods is definitely a good thing.

  13. 13
    Suffern ACE says:

    Oh that Breitburt. He touched so many in so many ways. His death is leading to such thoughtful discussion. I’m touched. He’s done more good by dying than most people do. He life had meaning and lots of it.

  14. 14
    Dude in Princeton says:

    @Henry Bayer: It’s not that difficult. Just clean out your cookies. You should be doing that anyway.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    @mistermix:
    I was never a regular reader of the Times. Since the paywall change I’ve had a problem once or twice with hitting the limit. In that case I copy/paste the URL, google it, and link from there. Problem solved. I don’t think they’re making any money from folks like me. I don’t see how the model can hold up.

  16. 16
    Raven says:

    When the dogs and I go to the bakery on Sunday morning the iPad version is nice because we get there so early it’s still dark and I can’t see the store copy anyway!

  17. 17
    Democratic Nihilist, Keeper Of Party Purity says:

    Don’t read the Times if you don’t want to pay ’em.

    I have so far managed to lead a perfectly informed life without giving them any traffic at all.

  18. 18
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Bob2:

    In the URL is a question mark. That character and everything to the right of it controls the ad. delete and hit enter. Voila. I rarely hit my free article limit in a month but when I do, the question mark trick is handy.

  19. 19
    Bulworth says:

    But opinions don’t differ in regard to bombing Iran. The Israeli’s want to. U.S. “officials” want to. And really, who else is there to hear from?

  20. 20
    samara morgan says:

    do you know what i havent seen yet mixie?
    Breitbart Failed.
    because he did.
    Do you remember the first day of Big Hollywood?
    i do, because it was the day Culture 11 died.

    Big Hollywood is not a “celebrity” gabfest or a gossip outpost – it is a continuous politics and culture posting board for those who think something has gone drastically wrong and that Hollywood should return to its patriotic roots.
    Big Hollywood’s modest objective: to change the entertainment industry. To make Hollywood something we can believe in – again. In order to give millions of Americans hope.
    Until conservatives, libertarians and Republicans – who will be the lion’s share of Big Hollywood’s contributors – recognize that (pop) culture is the big prize and that politics is secondary, there will be no victory in this important battle. -Andrew Breitbart

    If Breitbarts mission was to shut down ACORN or torment liberals with dirty tricks, than he succeeded.
    But if his mission was to “take back culture” he failed as utterly as Bush failed in Iraq.
    Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, and Big Government are just specialized versions of FOXnews– domain limited information cocoons.
    Conservatives are every bit as disenfranchised from culture as they were when Big Hollywood started up, indeed, even moreso.
    Breitbart was a culture warrior with absolutely no understanding of culture.
    Culture is not a steering wheel that he could grab to wrench America back onto his desired path.
    Culture is a multidimensional reflective surface, and its only marginally permeable.

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    some company is going to do for journalism what Netflix did to cable TV, giving us content from a number of sources for a lot less per month than the incumbents want us to pay.

    What? Like a blog that just links to the random juicy bits amid the “I don’t really give a shit about this” flop? That already exists. It’s called Balloon Juice / DKos / Digby / HuffPo / etc. It costs me exactly nothing and gives me just about everything I could reasonably ask for.

  22. 22
    Billy Beane says:

    Fuck Brietbart!

  23. 23
    jrg says:

    Not me. I want my news sources to tell me it may or may not be true that Obama is setting up death panels for old people and kids with Down’s Syndrome… Or ACORN may or may not have been a prostitution ring. It keeps me on my toes.

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @RossInDetroit: I run an ad blocker. I have yet to hit the paywall. Which is amazingly stupid design on their part.

  25. 25
    Ben Franklin says:

    At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources

    SOURCES

    You see this, in a more obvious way, in entertainment media. The sound of kneecaps being sucked is always in the background noise. Maintaining those sources becomes an end in itself for mainstream journos, as their lazy counterpoint to making the sources fight to talk to them, by doing their homework on background.. It is less visible, but it is working it’s reverse magic every day.

  26. 26
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    I like the sentiment in a comment I found on Mr. Rosen’s tumblr post: Journalism shouldn’t be a rorschach test, it should be a mirror. Reflect the facts, even if they’re uncomfortable.

  27. 27

    It’s going to be very difficult to have a democracy when everything’s pay-walled. Granted, in the days of the Federalist Papers, newspapers were even more expensive than their websites are today, but you had papers pass through a dozen hands before being used as fish-wrap, or being read aloud in a tavern or a household to six other people plus the cook and maid and tap-boy.

    I hate to say it, but the state either is going to have to provide this service, or subsidize it — think the BBC license fee, but for the internet, perhaps — because if it goes away completely, or is too heavily monopolized, there’s no way to do this whole consent-of-the-governed thing, not if you want informed consent.

    It’s only ever worked when if you or the state did something, or wanted something done, either everyone could hear you if you shouted loud enough (the Agora) or everyone could read you or hear you read.

  28. 28
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    It’s interesting that non-profit news outlets, like NPR affiliates or the BBC, have kicked ass on the internets, and the for-profits have struggled. Or ones with exceptional content, like the Economist, the FT, or the pre-Murdoch WSJ (the reporting is still good even if the editorial page is garbage.)

    Having said that, there’s no way the non-profit model can replace the $$$ to pay the same number of local reporters as the classified ads in the local papers did pre-Craigslist. So expect to see a lot more graft in local gubmint.

  29. 29
    MBunge says:

    “Somebody’s going to undercut that—some company is going to do for journalism what Netflix did to cable TV, giving us content from a number of sources for a lot less per month than the incumbents want us to pay.”

    The problem in that analogy is that journalism isn’t like cable TV. It’s like the studios that make movies and TV shows. Netflix pays the studios for their product, but I’m pretty sure that if the studios had to get by ONLY on what they get from Netflix, they’d either have to go out of business or start charging Netflix so much more that it would go out of business.

    Free stuff on the internet is like guns in the Wild West. At some point, people had to learn they couldn’t just walk around with a six-shooter on their hip and people are going to have to learn that if you want news, you’re going to have to pay for it.

    Mike

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Hollywood should return to its patriotic roots.

    Well, this explains a lot. Breitbart was a moron. Hollywood’s ‘roots’ have never been in patriotism, they’ve been in about making money. Period. Nothing else matters. The reason Hollywood became the center of the film industry is that it was far, far away from Thomas Edison and his team of patent lawyers.

  31. 31
    Bob2 says:

    or by adjusting cookies in your browser, etc. etc.

    If I regularly crossed the 20 free articles, I’d probably find myself paying for it. As is, it’s usually just whatever random stuff other people link.

    Honestly, it seems to be a working model thus far, so I’m not sure why mistermix seems to think someone will undercut the NYT given its quality. Gannett is trash.

    Having a soft paywall still lets people in so it’s not as ridiculous as the hard paywalls of other papers. Like digital music, people thus far end up choosing to pay if they feel they get their value for it. (especially if they ever get their mobile stuff right).

    I was as skeptical as anyone when I first saw their paywall scheme, but…see here for more data: http://blogs.reuters.com/felix.....f-the-day/

    http://blogs.reuters.com/felix.....s-working/

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    Andrew Breitbart was a vicious liar. He was unscrupulous and relentlessly vindictive toward those he saw as on the other side. There are plenty of instances one could cite, not least his mentoring of the similarly vile James O’Keefe. How much you should criticize the deceased in an obit is itself a matter of much debate. But even if you were OK with speaking well-deserved ill of the dead, you couldn’t put that in an obituary, unless you were also OK with the likelihood of Breitbart’s heirs suing the hell out of your newspaper and you.

    For much of my time at The Star here in Malaysia, the newspaper was being sued for libel by former Singaporean PM Lee Kuan Yew (who, come to think of it, had something in common with Breitbart when dealing with people he didn’t like.) The Star won, eventually; but defending the lawsuit cost tens of millions of dollars over more than a decade.

    Lawyers are much more expensive in America than in Malaysia. With money so tight even for a big outfit like the New York Times, you can understand their caution over provoking legal actions over libel. Not to make excuses for journalistic cowardice, but that’s just a business reality for any news organization.

    As for NPR’s new-found willingness to let reporters call out a lie when they see it, good. And it’s never too late for such a change to help. Vigilance in seeking out truth and calling out untruth is what the public expects from a newspaper or broadcaster, and rightly so. It earns our trust and keeps us coming back; NYT’s Arthur Brisbane got hammered by the readers for being obtuse about this. Let’s hope more news organization adopt this courageous stand.

  33. 33
    Shut up, that's who says:

    I read the Times almost every day for years, and eventually just Friday-Sunday once the other days’ puzzles stopped providing a challenge. But i haven’t paid for a copy since my local library started leaving photocopies of the crosswords out for the taking. Now I just drop in on Sunday mornings, grab my puzzle fix and walk out smiling. It feels great not to be tempted to find out what stupid bullshit Dowd or Friedman have written this time. Now if Will Shortz were to strike out on his own if gladly pay a subscription fee to him directly. And I know you’ve got a Google alert set up for your name, Will. So, do it already.

  34. 34
    Mark S. says:

    mobile version hell

  35. 35
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    the truth should be a simple thing. reality should be a simple thing.

    but since opinions differ, those differences have to be built in to the model.

    i bet no one wants to read a 5000 post thread about whitney houston that reduces her to a skin color and an addiction. but part of the news model, part that allows for “opinions differ” might lie in taking the 50 or 25 or 5 best differing opinions and culling them from the responses. you know crowdsourcing for clarity and additional information as well as reasoned counterpoint?

    the problem with integrating the customer into the business is every customer(even those getting it free) think their mindburps are worth publishing or highlighting. the way to attack opinions differ is to allow comments and become better curators of the internet’s most abundant resource, responses like this one. its frighteningly close to the sports talk radio model, but that is why you double or triple down on sifting through the responses for those that broaden and deepen the discussion.

  36. 36
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: That, and it had ample sunshine in a period when filming outdoors meant that whatever light you had was the light you worked with. There was no fixing it in post. Also too, land was cheap. Burbank and Hollywood both started out as orange groves.

  37. 37
    alex milstein says:

    Has a single Breitbart obit mentioned how Breitbart responded to the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. I believe his tweeted response was to call Kennedy a prick. Yes, I sympathize with a widow and children who lost a husband and father. I have known several families who have endured the same immeasurable difficulties. But let’s not forget who this man was.

  38. 38
    beergoggles says:

    @El Tiburon: If ur willing to do the aggregating, you can just use Google Currents to create your own. Why pay someone for it?

  39. 39
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, they are remaking Red Dawn. I can’t wait to see the North Koreans invade.

  40. 40
    slag says:

    @alex milstein: Normally, when someone dies prematurely, I too ask myself, “Why couldn’t it have been Glenn Beck?“. But in this case, when I heard someone died prematurely, I said to myself, “Sad, but at least it was Andrew Breitbart”. We take comfort where we can in these difficult times.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here’s one of the reasons the newspapers’ models are failing: the LA Times wants “only” $3.99 a week for a digital only subscription, which ends up being over $200 a year. Meanwhile, we just renewed my boss’ Monday-Sunday dead tree subscription for $95, which includes the digital version for FREE.

    Why the fuck am I supposed to pay TWICE as much for half as much product? What genius came up with that brilliant business model?

  42. 42
    Rafer Janders says:

    Meanwhile, back in the New! Media! Universe!, Andrew Sullivan, in a reflection on Breitbart’s death, bemoans the terrible, terrible strain of his chosen lifestyle:

    It takes a much bigger physical, emotional and spiritual toll than most realize, and I’ve spent some time over the years worrying it could destroy me. Here I am, after all, at 9.30 pm, still blogging, having just filed another column, and checking the traffic stats, and glancing feverishly at every new item at Memeorandum.

    By which he means here I am, ensconsed in my comfortable home at my desk in the evening, working for myself on my own schedule, busily….reading.

    I’m sure the millions of Americans who are spending their nighttime hours away from their families, toiling on their feet at jobs in factories or retail stores or restaurants or fast-food joints or farms can’t appreciate the physical, emotional and spiritual toll this must take.

  43. 43
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    But even if you were OK with speaking well-deserved ill of the dead, you couldn’t put that in an obituary, unless you were also OK with the likelihood of Breitbart’s heirs suing the hell out of your newspaper and you.

    That’s not really an issue. Breitbart was a public figure. To win at a libel trial you’d have to prove actual malice, and truth is an absolute defense to a charge of libel.

    I mean, sure, they could sue. They can always sue. But they couldn’t win.

  44. 44
    Martin says:

    Print media’s mistake was pushing out to the web thinking they could monetize that. They can’t. The web is where free things happen. They can’t paywall for two reasons:

    1) Only Apple has figured out how to take your money with no transactional overhead on your part (your time and effort). And they’ve never made that work on the web. Amazon is close, but only within their tight system. The amount of effort people are willing to invest in a purchase transaction (not the shopping part – just the paying for it part) is proportional to the cost of the thing. You’ll spend days to buy a house, hours to buy a car, minutes to buy a tv, and seconds to buy a song. If you demand people spend even 30 seconds to pay for a paper, they won’t bother. It’s too expensive, just in time. This is really the key to Apple’s success the last few years – they make it really damn easy to pay for things. And when you do that – surprise! – people will actually pay for things!
    2) Paywalls are all risk. If you throw up the paywall and people reject it, you’re fucked. They’ll find some other place to go and if you take your paywall down and rely on some other system, you’ll never get them back. Habits beat marketing every time – which is why you still see ads for everyday items. They keep reminding you to buy Q-Tips so it becomes a habit, and then they’ve won. They know this, and when you combine it with 1) above, they realize they’re stuck.

    The path for them is and always has been to leave the web. Their best opportunity is the iPad and other tablets. 1) above is already solved on these platforms, and 2) isn’t an issue because they don’t block access to the free web content. So why will people pay for it on the iPad if they can get it for free on the web? Well, one, because you made it really damn easy for them to pay for it, and some people just will. We pay billions of dollars for water that we could otherwise get out of the tap for pennies because it’s a better delivery system. So make the tablet papers a better delivery system – no or much fewer ads, better video, investigative reporting, and so on.

    But they don’t yet know how to do that right yet either, because all of them pretty much suck. The Daily is the first one to take a serious shot at getting this right. And they got quite a bit right. Hopefully they’ll all get this sorted out soon. And I’m hoping a retina display iPad next week helps motivate them, because it should be a much better reading platform. Not as nice as the eInk Kindles, but vastly better than the current iPad.

  45. 45
    Poopymantux says:

    Taibbi on Breitbart.

    And if you read it already, definitely go back and read the Update.

  46. 46

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): They can’t. Not until RyanAir has service to Pyongyang.

  47. 47
    Poopymantux says:

    My Taibbi link in moderation? Is it because youse guys reminded me to clear my cookies?

    ETA: Yes, yes it is, because this comment is in moderation too, for the moment.

  48. 48
    Poopyman says:

    @Poopymantux: Doh! Screwed up my own damned name.

    Anyway, read Taibbi on Breitbart. And if you’ve already read it, go back and read the Update.

  49. 49
    Marc says:

    I think that the New York Times is a unique resource and I’m perfectly willing to pay for it. There are very few news organizations doing the sort of original work that they’re going. I also pay for books, games, and movies that I like for the same reason.

    I think that this attitude is the only viable counter to the corporate mania about piracy – to demonstrate that people are willing to support quality.

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “But they couldn’t win”

    They don’t have to win in order to win. All they have to do is get past a motion to dismiss, and the defendant’s insurance company will force a settlement. You know this.

  51. 51
    Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Why the fuck am I supposed to pay TWICE as much for half as much product? What genius came up with that brilliant business model?

    Every business has that model.

    Some consumers don’t want to commit to $95, but they’ll commit to $4. Averaged over time, it makes no sense, but then that’s true of almost every single purchase you ever make in your lifetime. Why buy the 8oz bottle of hand soap for $3 when you can get the 55 gallon drum at Costco for $75? Same business model as the paper.

  52. 52
    anonymous says:

    Ha ha, somegayname!

    Read this and weep, NRA/GOP assholes everywhere!

    http://thinkprogress.org/wp-co.....g-guns.jpg

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Martin:

    I’m talking about the current model where book and newspaper publishers expect you to pay a premium for the digital edition of something. It’s not like they keep it a secret that the dead tree edition is cheaper — right on their website, it’s $2.99 a week for the regular paper (including free access to the digital edition) and $3.99 for the digital only.

    They are specifically marking up the digital edition, so your analogy makes no sense, unless you’re claiming that Costco is charging $75 for the 8oz bottle and $10 for the 55 gallon drum.

  54. 54
    Rafer Janders says:

    @burnspbesq:

    As you know that the reason that the New York Times doesn’t print factually accurate information about Andrew Breitbart is not that they fear a libel suit by a public figure. What’s causing them to to do this is a (mistaken) belief that the only way to demonstrate fairness is by a show of false impartiality.

    Please, the Times lawyers would piss themselves laughing if they actually got filed with a libel suit by the Breitbart estate. If it was as easy to get a settlement as you claim, virtually any public figure who was unhappy with a mention in a news source could sue and collect a settlement — but it never actually happens, does it?

  55. 55
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Martin:

    Why buy the 8oz bottle of hand soap for $3 when you can get the 55 gallon drum at Costco for $75? Same business model as the paper.

    Well, at least in the hand soap case, it’s because I don’t want to keep 55 galloon drums of multiple household materials in storage. I don’t have the room. But that’s not a factor with news.

  56. 56
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Like I said, my old paper’s successful defense against one libel suit cost tens of millions, over more than a decade. It can be a ruinous expense for a newspaper, even if the courts eventually find in its favor. The plaintiff might only want to mess up your finances real good. He doesn’t have to win to do that.

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    @burnspbesq:
    And of course your explanation was more succinct than mine.

  58. 58
    DanielX says:

    Second that….the local Gannett publication is going to a paywall because they’ve been bleeding printer subscribers for years. Of course, one of the reasons they’ve been losing subscribers is that it’s turned into a sucky publication since acquired by Gannett. Had been a locally owned publication for eons, with the editorial stance somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan. BUT – the local coverage was excellent, the paper didn’t hesitate to print all manner of things that were uncomfortable for the local powers that be.

    Then Gannett acquired them (making the local family exceedingly wealthy), the editorial position went to “he said/she said” and “our position/their position”, and most of the newsroom staff got fired. Since then they’ve be changing the format of the print edition every few months in increasingly desperate attempts to gain new subscribers and hold onto existing ones. You’re not going to gain new subscribers because people who aren’t buying the print edition now aren’t going to start. You’re pissing off your old print subscribers because it irritates them every time you fuck around with the product to “improve” it, when what you’re doing is cutting back on content and lessening the quality of what you still have.

    Um, guys? When you’re calling former subscribers (like me) and offering them a year’s subscription at a four-days-per-week price for a seven-day-per-week publication, you should be able to figure out that the business model for your print edition isn’t working. It may not necessarily be the case that you should shut down the presses tomorrow. Not everybody is going to buy an IPad or equivalent, and you haven’t figured out how to make your digital edition work yet with or without a paywall. Those crawling popup ads that come up when you load your home page truly and totally suck. On that note, by the way, you’d better get rid of your shitty popup ads for people who actually pay for the digital edition, because they don’t want to see them.

    Repeat after me:

    People hate popup ads. They do not load your publication home page to see whatever your major advertisers are pushing. You are trying to force people to read your ads and it wastes their time and pisses them off. If they want to buy a product they will look specifically for information on that product, and it won’t be on your fucking home page.

    Figure something out, fellahs, because what you’re doing now isn’t working with either paper and ink or electrons. Come up with content for which people are willing to part with their coin. The old advertising-based revenue model isn’t working because you’re trying to force people to look at the ads. People don’t like being forced to do anything.

  59. 59
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Rafer Janders: Most celebrities don’t in fact sue over small stuff, because most celebrities aren’t vicious motherfuckers like Andrew Breitbart and Lee Kuan Yew.

  60. 60
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Yeah, but that’s Malaysia. Totally different case in New York. As I mentioned above, if it was as simple to do as some think, virtually everyone who was unhappy with a mention in the Times could sue, and in that case you’d think the Times would be spending hundreds of millions a year in defending itself from libel suits. But they’re not, because such suits are actually vanishingly rare.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    @Poopymantux:

    Matt Taibbi:

    Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche

    What’s not to like?

  62. 62
    The Pale Scot says:

    I use Cookie Culler to manage my cookies, saving only the cookies that are useful to me. Like for BJ, everything else gets cleared, and my 20 piece limit gets reset. It’s not much of a wall.

  63. 63
    dww44 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: And, the climate.

  64. 64
    Stav says:

    On Times 20 article paywall. Just clean out the NYT cookies when you reach 20 and start again. Easy as pie.

  65. 65
    Stav says:

    Oops. Sorry about that repeat. Well if you want to circumvent the Boston Globe paywall, just copy and paste headline into Google and then click the link. Don’t get why that one works, but it does.

  66. 66
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    And because they wouldn’t get anywhere in a court of law operating under New York or California law rather than Malaysian law.

  67. 67
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    My free Times subscription lapsed in January, and since then I’ve been subsisting on the twenty or so free views I get every month

    When you hit your limit, clear out any cookies from nytimes.com and your limit will be cleared.

Comments are closed.