Why You Can't Go To Your Local Newspaper For Restaurant Reviews

from the why-not? dept

Many times we’ve discussed the folly of newspapers putting their online material behind registration walls and into inaccessible archives. The obvious problem is that it prevents the site from realizing its full potential by drastically limiting the amount of traffic to it. Blocking off the archives of news articles violates the whole concept of the long tail, which explains how the internet can help companies derive value from their back stock of goods that are rarely seen or read. Rich Skrenta has an interesting post explaining how this error is particularly glaring when it comes to service journalism, like reviews of movies and restaurants. Unlike news articles, which do lose most of their value fairly quickly, the value of these articles endures, as people routinely come back to them when they’re deciding where to eat, or what DVD to put into their Netflix queue. As it stands currently, when someone does a search, looking for a restaurant review, they’re going to find plenty of reviews at sites other than that of the local paper. This kind of thing should be the paper’s bread and butter, as it’s one area that can differentiate them from other news sites. Ultimately it’s really not surprising, that along with all of the other things that papers do to damage the value of their sites, they would hurt themselves in this way too.

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Comments on “Why You Can't Go To Your Local Newspaper For Restaurant Reviews”

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misanthropic humanist says:

on registration

Requiring registration is so 1990s. It’s probably the single most self-defeating step any website can take and it applies to newspapers, forums and blog comments.

I see two fallacies at work here.


They think to themselves “We have all this amazing content here which is surely worth the small inconvenience of registering for, so therefore people who want it will register”.

Problem #1 If noone can see it from outside no one will want to come in.

Problem #2 Registration is not a minor inconvenience, it is royal pain in the ass. So much so that I am not interested in any content you want me to register for. Period. The only reason I ever read a NYT feature is because someone deeplinked it or provided a bugmenot.


They think that by gathering registration data they are getting some kind of useful view of their readers. This is nonsense. Registration data may as well be random garbage.

Problem #1 It contains deliberate falsehoods (people want to protect their privacy),

Problem #2 It contains duplications (people register many time since they forget their passwords etc).

Problem #3 A poisoned database is worse than no database at all.

Your Lost IQ Pts says:

Re: Re:

“And yet two of the most popular areas of the internet today, MySpace and Blogging, both require logins to participate.”

There’s a huge difference between logging in so that what is listed as some person’s information on MySpace and other social sites always refers to the same person and the registration required by crappy newspapers and such for some half-baked marketing information.

Just because two things are superficially similar doesn’t mean that much.

Marios Alexandrou (user link) says:

There are workarounds...

The NY Times set the precedent for allowing search engines in to their gated archives while blocking users i.e. approved cloaking. Any legitimate (and large) news publisher can probably do that same thing and have the best of both worlds. Although I suppose people are going be less inclined to link to gated content.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: There are workarounds...

“Although I suppose people are going be less inclined to link to gated content.”

Look at what happens and observe the will of the people. When a NYT article appears on Slashdot it carries a warning, it gets very few comments until an AC copies the entire text verbatim so that it can actually be read. On Digg, any NYT story is burried within hours. If I see a NYT link I just pass it by. To all intents and purposes the New York Times is out of bounds and a dead zone. They completely misunderstand the nature of the internet and deserve to rot in their own self imposed isolation.

Okie (user link) says:

The Daily Oklahoman

The Daily Oklahoman, which was ranked the worst newspaper in America in 1999
used to have a daily classified search engine. You would put in search terms, and it would send you e-mail when they came up. The of course wanted to monetize this traffic, so they decided to charge $3.25 per search per month. When that didn’t work, they removed the ability to use boolean search terms, then they just removed the search altogether. I guess they never realized that online search, while removing an incentive to buy the paper, at least provided value to the advertiser. Now you can manually search their classifieds again, but with all the other options, why bother?

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