Saying That The NY Times Paywall Is Dumb Does Not Mean That We Don't Want The NY Times To Make Money

from the this-is-real? dept

Someone passed along Simon Dumenco's AdAge report in which he purports to debunk the bloggers who are criticizing the NY Times' paywall. Frankly, it may be the dumbest argument I've seen in a long time, in that it makes absolutely no sense. First Dumenco mocks BoingBoing (where Cory Doctorow is not a fan of the NYT paywall) because it didn't have employees kidnapped in Libya like the NY Times did. And... somehow, this is proof that a paywall makes sense. I'm not kidding.

Dumenco's demented argument appears to be "the NY Times does real journalism, the people complaining do not, and thus mocking a paywall is bad." But that completely and totally ignores the very point that people are making about the paywall. We're not mocking the paywall because we don't like news organizations doing real journalism, or we think they don't deserve to make money. We're mocking the paywall because it won't help the NY Times actually make that much money. It's a bad idea not because it'll help the NY Times continue to do serious reporting, but because it won't actually help them do that. That's the point that many of us -- including Doctorow -- were making. But instead of responding to that, Dumenco made up a complete straw man that somehow people against the paywall are against the NY Times doing reporting at all.

Even worse, he compounds the ridiculousness of the argument by then mocking Doctorow's support of business models that include "free" as a part of the business model by noting that Doctorow sells physical books, even as he gives away digital copies of all of his books. It's as if Dumenco's brain can't comprehend rather simple concepts. When people talk about the use of free as a part of a business model, it doesn't mean that everything must be free. For example, I read Dumenco's ridiculously stupid article online for free. Does this mean that Dumenco also doesn't believe that the NY Times should make money? That seems to be the logical conclusion of his illogical argument.

We see this kind of brain-dead logic all too frequently in discussions of business models in the digital age. I tend to think of it as the mental divide-by-zero error, wherein otherwise intelligent people simply stop thinking, the second someone mentions "free" as a part of a business model. Suddenly, they think that this means "absolutely everything must be free and no one should make any money at all." And yet, no one argues that. They're arguing about what things should be free, and what it doesn't make sense to charge for if you actually want to make money. For example, charging for a paywall online is probably not a very good business strategy to make money. Saying that doesn't mean I don't want the NY Times to make money. It means that I think they could make more money by putting in place an alternative business model -- such as by getting people to pay for added scarce value, rather than abundant content.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    ?, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    commment

    my comment is not working i just want to test before wasting another 5 minutes of my life typing

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    ?, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    commment

    my comment is not working i just want to test before wasting another 5 minutes of my life typing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    NYTpaywallbitchfest.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    ?, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:02pm

    oh great

    ok that worked (-_-)
    just wanted to point out that blogs always being bashed by the 'newsy' people is hilarious. They see themselves as 'knowledge nobility' I guess, and the rest of us are common-folk who could not possibly have anything interesting to say. It's not because you have a brand behind you and a paycheck for it that people will want to read you, especially in light of that heaping load of superiority-complexed condescending crap.

     

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  5.  
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    Some Other Guy, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:06pm

    Phrase Praise

    I like "mental divide-by-zero error" - I'm surprised that so few people have used that before (Google only shows me 2 pages of hits)

     

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  6.  
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    Freedom, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Stupid?

    I love reading TD, but when I see your post calling other people's work stupid, it makes me think twice about you and not them.

     

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  7.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re:

    Have you snapped up that URL yet? Or is this some sort of cyber-squatting thing?

     

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  8.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Stupid?

    Would you prefer he called it bereft of any sort of insight and generally unfit for intellectual consumption?

     

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  9.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Stupid?

    Quotes from the piece being commented on, about BoingBoing and Doctorow:

    ... the Libyan situation comes fast on the heels of BoingBoing journalists' heroic on-the-ground coverage of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, not to mention its bloggers' essential coverage from the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond. Oh, wait. Did I say BoingBoing? I'm sorry, I got confused. I meant to say The New York Times.

    In his pay-wall-bashing piece, Doctorow inevitably repeats the hoary line "news is a commodity."

    ... Which makes knee-jerk bashing of attempts to enable reader support for such news-gathering seem not only knee-jerk petty, but profoundly myopic.

    I would say the gloves are off at this point.

     

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  10.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    The Plan

    Considering how many ways there are to get around it, I figure the NYT is planning on making its money from the ignorant. Like people with a broadband connection who are still paying AOL a monthly fee.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Stupid?

    What would you prefer stupid things be called?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Re: Stupid?

    Some things are just stupid.

     

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  13.  
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    lux (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:46pm

    Perfection

    Think you may have coined another one, Mike!

    mental divide-by-zero error

    And it's too bad Dumenco linked to the NYT article covering the captive journalists...I inadvertently used up one of my 20 lives. Wait...cache cleared - and we're good!

    And as for the "dwindling number of journalistic organizations left on the world stage that do actual, honest-to-God reporting -- of 'news'", he's absolutely right. These honest-to-God organizations found the WikiLeaks story to be most engaging, and covered it thoroughly and with great professionalism...the inflammatory Assange angle, I mean, not the actual content of the leak - c'mon, that would be too easy!

    But lastly, you can (IMHO) glean a bit of a Freudian slip at the very end of Dumenco's piece, where he states (emphasis my own):

    Which makes knee-jerk bashing of attempts to enable reader support for such news-gathering seem not only knee-jerk petty, but profoundly myopic.

    His wording struck me as being fairly backwards to his entire argument, or at the very least, seems to acknowledge that the NYT put the cart before the horse.

    What I mean is why the hell would a for-profit news agency create a product / offer a service / do anything "to enable reader support" - isn't the idea to make money? Last I checked, the NYT wasn't NPR. In the age of 24/7 news media consumption, the NYT should be scrambling (read: spending $40 million) to attract readers with scarcities which then manifests support.

    While I do agree their name alone will garner subscribers, they need to offer reasons to purchase the subscription, apart from the guilt-ridden argument of "Hey guys, c'mon. I mean they send their journalists to places...I mean, that costs money, guys."

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    Mike, how do you pay for food? I mean, you give your content away FREE on TD, so you can't be making money there, yet that's where you spend your time... are our tax dollars funding TD Freetards through welfare?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 7:44pm

    Re:

    I'm trying to figure out if you're serious, and you honestly didn't realize that you're making Mike's point, or if you're sarcastic and pretending that Mike is a hobo on the street.

    Yes, Techdirt is a website that gives away its writing with no cost attached. And yes, Mike makes a living via Techdirt.

     

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  16.  
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    Robert Ravi, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 7:48pm

    A different view

    Here's a great analysis and breakdown of the NYTimes Paywall: www.theflipsidenews.com/2011/03/28/the-new-york-times-digital-paywall-effective-monday/

     

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  17.  
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    Cow Tard, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Another name for STUPID?

    What do you expect, the guys name is.....

    Dumenco ..... > Dumb 'n' Co.

    The guys just churning out the dumb lines maybe he should incorporate, hell why not Patent them whilst your at it!
    Not that anyones else would want to go there, except NYT and Co.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 9:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Pretty sure he wasn't being serious.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 11:28pm

    We see this kind of brain-dead logic all too frequently in discussions of business models in the digital age.

    The panicked, flustered logic of a man whose future is slipping (or has already slipped) through his fingers. He doesn't know how to adapt, or how to find out how to adapt. I can picture him at a bar sitting next to Doug Morris, the two of them crying into their beers.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:12am

    Aw leave the poor NYT folks alone. They are just having trouble coming to terms with the new reality that they are being presented with. They don't want to accept that what the people really want is watered-down aggregated versions of hearsay posted elsewhere, enhanced by inflammatory one-sided opinions.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 12:53am

    Re:

    Aw leave the poor NYT folks alone. They are just having trouble coming to terms with the new reality that they are being presented with. They don't want to accept that what the people really want is watered-down aggregated versions of hearsay posted elsewhere, enhanced by inflammatory one-sided opinions

    Do you honestly think that's true?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:29am

    Re: Re:

    Yahoo! News has five times the marketshare online as the NYT. Do they employ even a single journalist?

    Just this quarter, of the top rated news programs on cable, Fox News holds the top 12 slots.

    I'd say if the NYT were interested in maximizing readership, they'd change their slogan to something like:

    "The New York Times: News from other people. News you can agree with."

     

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  23.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 1:33am

    Re: Re: Stupid?

    rabid lunacy and n00bishness.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:03am

    It's a given that Masnick will call "dumb" and "illogical" any argument that doesn't agree with his pre-conceived positions. Then he will erect a distorted straw-man version of the argument he does not like and triumphantly proceed to knock it down, to enthusiastic cheering of techdirt sheeple.

     

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  25.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:11am

    Re:

    Says the dumbtard posting his valuable comments here without getting paid. Convincing!

     

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  26.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 3:12am

    Re:

    Obvious troll is obvious.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 4:44am

    Re:

    It's a given that Masnick will call "dumb" and "illogical" any argument that doesn't agree with his pre-conceived positions

    Hmm. Just yesterday I pointed to evidence that disagree with my stated position, and opened a discussion on it. Where were you on that?

    In the meantime, can you explain to me how the argument in the article *is* logical? Where did anyone say we didn't want the NY Times to make money or to stop reporting?

    If you can't answer such basic questions it's difficult take your personal ad hominem attack on me seriously. And I do so much care about your thoughts.

     

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  28.  
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    Prashanth (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:06am

    For those interested, here's a MakeTechEasier article about how different ways to bypass the paywall.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    bob, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re:

    I love how people call things "trolls" when they don't agree with them. How open.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    bob, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:41am

    But what kind of living?

    TechDirt used to contain other bylines. Now it's just down to Mike. I'm not sure how long the astroturfing game will go on.

    And when you look at his list of successful people who give away their content, you'll realize that all you have to do to be a success is sell a few t-shirts. It's not a very high bar.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re:

    Convincing!

    [mode = "Inigo_Montoya] You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. [/mode]

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    bob, Mar 31st, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Yeah, it's all rather sad

    The only reason I bother stopping in to add my own two cents is because others read him and get sucked into his shangri-la.

    Consider his point that the NYT should be getting people to pay for "added scarce value". If you ask me, sending reporters to Libya is a pretty scarce commodity these days. Asking people to pay to read their reports sounds like doing exactly what he says.

    But he's going to move the target, change the goal line and insult us in the process because his job is to defend the idea of free content at all costs. His astroturfing backers insist upon it.

    So he'll dodge. I watched Cory Doctorow justify his plagiarism by saying something like "Are you saying I can't write about Libya without going there?" But that's not the point. It's about getting everyone to chip in somehow to pay for this. And yes, Mike, the NYT already sells t-shirts and it doesn't pay for the folks in Libya. It also stages Times Talks and other F2F events that can't be plagiarized or downloaded, but the market for these things is small.

    Mike is actually a bit more thoughtful than Cory. He actually puts some work into his writing. He rarely uses big blockquotes that take up 80-90% of the so-called posting as BoingBoing frequently does.

    Still he wants to believe that the commons won't be run down even if it happened to all other commons through life. So he'll keep up his chatter and feel good when his cheap couch potato fan club echo his points back to him. At least he doesn't delete non-believers like the thin-skinned idiots at BoingBoing.

     

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  33.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: oh great

    That took you 5 minutes?

     

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  34.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    Re: But what kind of living?

    TechDirt used to contain other bylines.

    It still does. Just off the top of my head we've got Nina Paley, Tim Geigner, and Glyn Moody that are frequent contributors.

     

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  35.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, and techdirt has great readership than rupert murdochs Times paywall experiment. Whats your point?

     

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  36.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Re: Yeah, it's all rather sad

    But he's going to move the target, change the goal line and insult us in the process because his job is to defend the idea of free content at all costs. His astroturfing backers insist upon it.

    Wait, what? This is the most insane conspiracy theory I've heard. Who, exactly, do you think are my "astroturfing backers"? And why are they insisting I defend free content at all costs?

    I can assure you that there is no such thing.

    And yes, Mike, the NYT already sells t-shirts and it doesn't pay for the folks in Libya.

    If you think the business model I'm talking about is "sell t-shirts" it explains why you're so confused.

     

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