NY Times Discusses NY Times' Thoughts On Charging For Access
from the don't-do-it... dept
A few months back, the folks at the NY Times admitted they were thinking about charging for access to their website. This is a bad idea for a ton of reasons -- including the decreasing relevance the publication will have on future news readers. Amusingly, though, a NY Times reporter is now weighing in with a story about whether newspapers should charge for access to online content. What's unfortunate is how clear it is that publishers simply don't get what's happening around them -- and how they're hastening their own obsolescence in the name of "protecting existing business models." The reporter quotes an analyst saying "Newspapers are cannibalizing themselves," as if that's a bad thing. The fact is, if they don't cannibalize themselves, someone else will -- and then they've got absolutely nothing. In a discussion about another (smaller) newspaper, the editor claims that they decided to charge "to save the print newspaper." That's backwards thinking. It's like saying a buggy maker refused to build automobiles to "save the buggy business." It doesn't work that way. As if to prove that, the article notes that paper subscriptions are still decreasing -- though, this is hidden quietly at the end of that section. Meanwhile, the article includes other misunderstandings about other newspapers. For example, the Washington Post claims that the current registration process is great because "you're getting information from your users and you can target ads to your users, which is more efficient for advertisers." Except that's not true. Plenty of studies have shown that newspaper registration files are filled with dirty data, often doing much more damage then good while also opening them up to legal liability by presenting data to advertisers which is likely filled with false information. The problem with newspapers these days is that they're missing two very important cultural changes. First, is that there no longer is a captive audience. If you don't make it easy to work with you, then people go elsewhere quickly. That means registration or charging drives people away for good. Second, is that many people no longer view the news from solely the consumer perspective -- but also from the ability to share the news with others -- and registration and charging makes that more difficult as well. For example, the link above to the NY Times article is actually to a reprint of that article at CNET, because there's no registration requirements there, meaning we're more comfortable linking there than to the original piece at the NY Times itself.