NY Times Apparently Planning To Commit Suicide Online With Paywall

from the so-long,-farewell dept

There have been rumors for a while that, despite the NY Times massive failure with its last attempt at a paywall — which drove away users in bunches, pissed off NY Times writers and did little to help the bottom line — the NY Times might consider going back down that cursed road. And now reports are leaking out that the braintrust at the NYT has made a decision and it’s to kill off whatever value the NY Times’ online presence may have had by putting up a paywall designed to piss off users and take itself out of the online conversation.

Apparently, it considered three options for getting users to pay more for online content — and then chose the worst of the three. Among the rejected ideas were the one that we thought sounded quite promising of creating a CwF+RtB-style membership club, that would give people all sorts of benefits for paying, without taking away the free content. The newspaper apparently also rejected a WSJ-style paywall that is pretty porous, with lots of content for free, and easy ways in if necessary, but some stuff gets blocked out. I don’t think that’s a very good solution long-term, but it surely beats the solution that the NY Times appears to have gone with: a Financial Times-style “metered” system, whereby you can visit a few times per month and are then locked out. I try not to link to the Financial Times because of this particular system. It means when I link to them a large number of my readers can’t read the story, and that is no good for anyone. Why am I going to send people to a story they can’t read? Putting up such a system takes the NY Times out of the conversation online and makes sure that people won’t link to them, won’t share the stories and won’t discuss them.

Will some people sign up and pay? Yes, absolutely. In fact, I’m sure that there will be stories early on about just how many people subscribed. But as we saw with TimesSelect, that initial number plateaued quickly, and getting the next generation of readers to sign up? Yeah… good luck. Putting this system in place is effectively the NY Times saying that it only plans to be the paper of record for an older generation, and plans to give up the next generation.

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Comments on “NY Times Apparently Planning To Commit Suicide Online With Paywall”

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Chris says:

Re: Sorry

… you get what you pay for — eventually.

If readers are not willing to pay for value content, eventually that content will disappear. Advertising subsidies are disintermediated by Google and others, so there old revenue model of premier newspapers is being destroyed.

Eventually only blogs may remain and a few news services, all reporting the same.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Sorry

In my opinion, the quality, perspicacity, and variety of blogs is higher than that of conventional mainstream media sources (and I was quite doubtful of their utility at first), but they have now become almost any site not encumbered by legacy media paradigms that are obviously cognizant of their advertisers and rather far behind the vanguard of the internet. In case you haven’t noticed they already all write the same thing, both literally(the AP news service) and in groupthink. The only difference right now is their access to certain sources (e.g. government) that have not really adapted to the new world media, and so are left as the only primary sources for those stories. This advantage would, of course, evaporate as well should bloggers and citizen journalists be recognized as legitimate reporting entities by them as well.

Esahc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry

The whole reason for the fall of the “great” newspapers of the USA is not because of the dieing off of print but because these news agencies became really bad at reporting.

Now that they have some serious competition from blogs/news sites (and there are a lot of good news sites) they will die if they can’t adapt to the competition doing a better job.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry

The problem is that theold guard media companies have abandoned their charge. They do not do quality reporting, and haven’t for a very, very long time — basically, ever since they were gobbled up by media conglomerates.

It doesn’t matter if they fail because they do not add any value to society. Your description of the future, “a few news services, all reporting the same” is the reality right now.

And I’m not going to pay for that something of so little value.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sorry

“If readers are not willing to pay for value content, eventually that content will disappear.”

You mean like how we were unwilling to pay for TV broadcasts when they emerged in the 1950s, and now TV content has all disappeared?

Or do you mean, instead, how society didn’t pay for radio broadcasts when they emerged, so now they’re all gone? Or how they were killed by the video star?

RE Google: tell me how pointing more readers at your site diminishes your ad revenue again. I missed that point.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Sorry

I have, do, and will do so again (next up is kicking a few bucks to TechDirt), when the site enhances my life to the point where I would feel a loss without it.

I will not pay to read a website at first, and I will never pay to read a website when I have to pay. Why should I? It shows a distrust and disrespect for me, so why should I trust and respect it?

As Ryan mentions in his comment above, the problem with the news industry is that the quality of reporting has become so bad as to be worthless. The editorial blogs I read offer much higher quality and intelligent opinion, often in the comment section, than corporate news sources and the news reporting blogs I read offer much higher quality reporting. The worst ones offer reporting of equally bad quality because they just repeat the same syndicated stories that you get from the corporate news.

If the traditional news sources offered something of value, I wouldn’t mind paying for it at all. But they don’t.

zealeus (profile) says:

Paying Devices

While I won’t be paying for the NYT anytime soon, I think this is more of a push for charging on devices such as the iPhone, the Kindle, and the fabled Tablet. As more and more closed devices come out, it allows the Times to create partnerships with the device companies to create a built-in paywall. IF the tablet and other portable devices do take off, then the gamble could work. I’m thinking of how the iPod and iTunes helped the music industry to monetize music in the digital age- perhaps the newspaper industry is hoping for the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why are people against paying for things, if you don’t pay they don’t exist. I swear only internet/computer types beleive in that whole open source/freedom thing. If I make something and people want it, then pay up. Why would I write an in-depth and highly informative article and then give it away for free? doesn’t make sense.

Does your boss at the office not pay you? If you’re a mechanic and someone brings in their car, do you work for free? etc etc

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: "I just don't understand

“Why would I write an in-depth and highly informative article and then give it away for free? doesn’t make sense.”

Dude, are you really posting that rhetorical question after reading one of Mike’s 20,000 posts in 12 years, all of which are available right now, free of charge?

This is like engaging in the “If a tree falls in a forest” quandary in the Brazilian rainforest as a crew of 30 bulldozers knocks down trees all around you.

Oscar Stratten says:

Re: Why not pay?

To use the mechanic analogy, if the dealer will fix it for free under warranty, or your local shop will fix it for $50, will you pay the $50?

Most news sources provide content free to the user with advertisements. Unless the NYT continually has something unique THAT PEOPLE WANT, it won’t work. Talk shows can charge for their downloads, because they are unique. How can NYT expect people to pay for their version of the Obamacare bill, when other sources have beat all angles to death.

PJP says:

Re: Why not pay?

Maybe because that is how newspapers have always worked.
The content was essentially free, it was there to draw an audience for the ads.

The price of a newspaper never approached the costs of production, it was simply to offset distribution costs.
These days, distribution costs are as close to zero as you can get.

If you don’t want to write that article, someone else will.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No one ever says “I want my car fixed…” they say “I need my car fixed…”.

No one ever says “I need the news…” they say “I want the news…”.

See the difference?

Because someone wants something doesn’t mean they’ll pay for it. Sure they won’t get it, but where does that leave you the newspaper?

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, only internet/computer types.

And those who read the free newspapers given out in London (and presumably other cities?)

And people who watch freeview TV (in the UK – not sure on US terminology)

And people who listen to the radio

And anyone who has ever asked a friend what the score from last night was

etc etc

I would comment that the point is you do still make money for your product it’s just that you don’t charge the end user and instead make money elsewhere but I’m guessing since you’re on here you’re aware of that argument and aren’t interested in that.

Plus if I’m a mechanic and someone brings in their car I probably will work for free for the first half an hour to tell them what’s wrong and advertise what I can do to help if they’re willing to pay for a scarce resource – my time.

CastorTroy-Libertarian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I swear only internet/computer types beleive in that whole open source/freedom thing. – Nope, most people believe in the “freedom thing” (George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin (and I am willing to bet u he would be the first to figure out how to monitize with the industry changing, he was a printer)

Its call Free Market Economics, look it up…

Vernon says:

Re: Re:

“Why are people against paying for things, if you don’t pay they don’t exist. I swear only internet/computer types beleive in that whole open source/freedom thing. If I make something and people want it, then pay up.”

Sorry to disappoint you, but “you” (or the NYT author etc.) don’t “make” the news. You just report it. The facts that you report don’t exist simply because you report them. They exist independently of your reporting. That is why people don’t want to pay for news. They pay for the delivery of news. Before the Internet, you had to rely on the papers, which, material as they were, needed to be paid for and their delivery needed to be paid for. Now, with the Internet, the production and delivery issues disappeared entirely. What’s left is the need for someone to write up the stories. The trick is that there is always someone willing to write up the story for free. Also, there is also always someone able and willing to centralize and present the story that have been written (not necessary the same person/entity). The result is that, no matter what (online) papers do, the old business model is dead… not just dieing but altogether dead. The only problem is that it’s not buried yet. Nevertheless, people has started to notice that the body started to stink some time ago…

Why you see only “Internet types” advocating free/open stuff? Because they understand what I’ve just said. Everybody will get it eventually, but we’re not there yet.

Don’t confuse physical goods with virtual goods. Some people, like, for example, you, seem to think that the lack of physicality of the virtual goods doesn’t differentiate them from physical goods. But that’s not true. I won’t start reiterating through all the arguments why that’s a fallacy but I invite you to look up some of Mike’s old articles on this topic. They should be very enlightening.

“Does your boss at the office not pay you? If you’re a mechanic and someone brings in their car, do you work for free? etc etc”

This is another fallacy. Your boss or your garage client aren’t paying you for a virtual good (like in the case of the NYT articles). They pay you for a service. If they don’t pay, they don’t get the service. That’s different from a virtual good. You can look at it in this way: a service is something done on demand and it has a high probability that is customized to each customer at least a little. On the other hand, a virtual good is something that has been produced already and it is provided to everyone as is. That being said, in the case of a service, the service provider does at least some work for every served client. On the other hand, the virtual good provider works only once and then expects to be paid by every client. This is why you won’t find any service providers equating a lost sale to a complete loss, like the virtual goods providers do. If a service provider loses a sale, he actually loses just the profit (which, let’s say, just as an example, was 20% of the sale price). On the other hand, when a virtual good provider loses a sale, he also loses just the profit… only that in this case, the profit is 100% of the sale price. So, you see, in the end is only a matter of some people wanting to suck everybody else dry and to make fabulous profits by taking advantage of some peoples’ lack of understanding of how these things work.

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

Re: the best things in life

Sorry AC, I hate to break this to you but many things that no one pays for DO in fact exist. There was even a song.

We may pay to support our children, but we don’t pay for them.

Rocks and trees and flowers actually existed long before your local garden center started selling them. No one has paid for the bunnies and squirrels and chipmunks in my neighborhood, but they certainly exist. And I certainly appreciate them.

If you’re talking about human generated creations, well, years ago the only way people could have a hand stitched quilt was if they made it themselves or received it as a gift. Quilts were a useful thing created out of scraps. You certainly couldn’t buy them in a store. Because of the great amount of work required in creating a quilt, quilters would gather together to create quilts for community members who needed them, and socialized in the process. It was a community effort.

Today, non-quilters pay hundreds of dollars for quilts. In some circles quilting is considered an art. Many of the most satisfying quilt patterns have existed for hundreds of years, and they are shared and improved on. You might evn say “remixed”. Machine made knock offs exist but the quality just isn’t the same. Still, I have yet to see quilters bring copyright infringement suits against anyone.

The open source movement has more in common with quilting community tradition than anything else I can think of.

The thing that makes it difficult to understand is that although art is work, it is not the same as labour.

Sorry I don’t have time right now to explain it any better… I have to do some work for pay. Maybe I’ll write a blog post explaining it sometime… for free… i don’t even allow ads on my blog 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Bosses fire employees all the time. Mechanics refuse work all the time. This is no different. Customers have every right to take their business elsewhere if other places provide better value. It has nothing to do with open source. A market in which people are OBLIGED to pay for services they don’t want is not a free market.

yawp says:

Re: Re:

My internet access isn’t free. Is yours?

Newspapers have failed to maintain ownership of the media and the distribution of their original content.

Much like the telegraph companies, radio broadcasters and network television broadcasters ignored the technologies that diminished or replaced them, newspapers have failed to own the networks and internet service providers that distributes their content and that control their customers’ access to them.

Dragging the tired, old monthly subscription model into the digital age unchanged won’t work.

Newspapers need to study how radio and network television have responded to the changes in their industries.

Newspapers could certainly learn and build on the business model developed between content providers, channel owners and cable networks.

Customers simply are not going to pay twice for internet access and for content, especially when much of the same content is available at no additional charge on other sites.

Corporate Statesmen (user link) says:

SUBSCRIPTION FEDERATION - the only wat to get people to pay


An approach to preserve the profitability of quality media companies.

Subscription Federation is a way for quality online media companies to collect the subscription fees that are necessary to ensure their robust survival.

The approach requires all of the quality media companies to form a subscription federation. A subscription federation allows the subscriber to access all of the online content of all of the members of the federation for one small monthly fee.

The quality media companies are those that produce quality journalism, primarily print. This would include companies like The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and most other big city dailies. Secondary publications including quality magazines and second tier news sites would also be welcome. These would include sites like Science Magazine, National Geographic, the Blackpool Gazette and so forth. Other forms of media may also be welcome to join but the primary thrust of this proposal is the preservation of quality journalism.

Each subscriber’s fee would be broken up to each online site based upon how much time each subscriber spent at each site.

The amount that each site would gain from each subscriber would be small. However, because the target market for this proposal is the entire English Speaking World, the amount of subscribers should be large.

Thirty million people paying seven dollars a month should be able to offset substantial newsroom overhead.

This Corporate Statesmen proposal was contributed by

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: SUBSCRIPTION FEDERATION - the only wat to get people to pay

“Thirty million people paying seven dollars a month”

Good luck with that.

Plus you’d need some sort of an organisation to collect the payments (lets call them “royalties”) and distribute it to the newspapers and journalists (lets call them “artists”).

Anyone know where we can find a good organisation like that?

Bill Jones (profile) says:

Re: SUBSCRIPTION FEDERATION - the only wat to get people to pay

“The approach requires all of the quality media companies to form a subscription federation. A subscription federation allows the subscriber to access all of the online content of all of the members of the federation for one small monthly fee.”

Ever heard of the concept of Anti-Trust laws?

Thought not

Joel Josephson says:

Publishing business models

The answer is not to think in a linier fashion but to be more creative and flexible. Subscription will not work, people do not have the time to read a whole paper online.

To understand that to survive a free free edition is necessary but people would be prepared to pay for particular individual articles at a reasonable low rate. Exactly what has happened with music. People are prepared to pay a small amount for a single song, but NOT buy the whole album with 75% of music they do not want.

Here is the free news:

Here is the indepth evaluation, opinion and analysis – pay per item.

Techguy says:

The Internet is full of ways a website owner can gain financial income with obtuse billing structures. The downfall of the NYT is other pubications can produce the same caliber media, or in many cases higher caliber media, without fees/memberships. NYT is fighting a battle they cannot win with their current business paradigm. Just like the failing automotive industry, without innovation they are destined to go bankrupt…but they are not too big to fail.

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

Bye Bye NYT

I’m no Mike Masnick, but I won’t be linking to any New York Times articles either. Being still fairly new at blogging, I only recently realized that The Globe and Mail puts a paywall around older articles, leaving broken links in earlier posts. I’ve learned my lesson.

It’s too bad, but of course part of it is that these are media outlets I will now use less of.

My biggest gripe is that an old friend from high school works on the NYT, so personally I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to follow his career anymore. C’est la vie.

pink floyd says:

SO this is good right

we have to make all these corporately controlled media THINK this is good and then they go that route and we can pull the plug and laugh our asses off when they all fail

this is GOOD
can’t wait for them all to do it and then utter outrage one day when real news doesn’t get to the people
OH wait it will just without them…….

tear down the wall
tear down the wall
tear down the wall

Ben Ursa says:

Techdirt - prejudiced against the "old"

I am “old”, or at least my grandchildren think I am old.

I am insulted by Techdirt’s prejudical “NY Times saying that it only plans to be the paper of record for an older generation” …

Either, because I am “old” I have enough money to pay for content mindlessly (ha!) or, because I am senile I pay for content.

Greg says:

Re: Techdirt - prejudiced against the "old"

I think you misunderstand his point. I don’t think he’s suggesting old people are stupid. He’s suggesting that younger people are more accustomed to easily accessible, free content and how to get to it. Younger people unused to the old model will look at a paywall page, say ‘Pfft’ and immediately move on to the same story someplace else, thus never discovering the ‘value’ of the NYT. The NYT will become completely irrelevant to them. The older generation, who have grown up with the NYT and consider it valuable will be more inclined to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Masnick once again forgets: "I write, but I still need to eat."

They are poor. They are neglected. They are mocked and occasionally pitied. They are considered irrelevant, their field of study dead. They are locked away in towers and thought of as eccentric and unable to contribute to modern society. They need your help.

Newspaper Writers have families, too. Children that need to eat, regardless of whether their parents sit around all day pondering the first principals of Being. Please make a donation to The Unemployed Newspaper Writers Guild. Maybe their children will be able to forge a better life for themselves using say, blog software.

Anony1 says:

There have been over 40 comments, perhaps someone could respond to the proposed subscription federation, in stead of the usual snark found here. Snark has its place, but the idea seems sound. Getting over 10 or 20 media organizations to essentially split their profits may be difficult, but it’s worth a short. The subscription federation is the only sound response here I have heard so far. Perhaps some people could weigh in on this?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There have been over 40 comments, perhaps someone could respond to the proposed subscription federation, in stead of the usual snark found here. Snark has its place, but the idea seems sound. Getting over 10 or 20 media organizations to essentially split their profits may be difficult, but it’s worth a short. The subscription federation is the only sound response here I have heard so far. Perhaps some people could weigh in on this?

It’ll work just as well as any paywall. That is, it won’t.

Vic B (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Subscription Federation to me is simply a middle men trying to make a buck on other people’s work. The essential question is, “are we willing to pay for content and if so, how much?” There are plenty of information outlets for those who don’t want to pay, starting with rabbit ears tv. All those interested in specialized news already pay for it or at least their company pays for it. Insightful generalist news is where the battle is and no one outlet has sufficient leverage to force people to pay (unless Murdoch succeeds in his battle with Google). So, $10, $20, $30 a month/a year? Not a chance.

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

What difference does it make whether its one newspaper or twenty? The news is already there and already just as easily dispersed by anyone else – probably more so.

The only unique value they may have to offer is unusually high-quality investigation and commentary, both of which can also be achieved by most any other well-organized company with sufficiently talented employees that are practically ubiquitous in availability – and the larger audience would actually draw the best writers outside the paywall.

Unlike in the past, effective news organizations no longer require a large overhead to operate successfully, nor do they have a monopoly on its availability at any given location. Sucks for the legacy news companies, but it’s great for everyone else. Again, there is no reason why people need to pay for services when their scarcity/marginal cost has dwindled to zero or near that. That’s exactly what society should be striving for in everything.

Kat says:

Re: Subscription Federation

No matter how many “media organizations” are behind that paywall, the effect will still be the same: if I can get the news I’m interested in without paying, I am not going to pay. Even if I can’t get a particular story somewhere else without paying, the inconvenience of joining a cartel is likely to be enough that I won’t bother.

Thomas (profile) says:

subscription federation.

Can you imagine the nightmare it would be to keep track of all that? And “how much time each subscriber spends on each site” would be totally impossible to keep track of. Suppose I click on NYT, read 3 lines, and then close the browser window. How would the NYT know I left their website? And what if I was at the NYT website and they link within a story to another website – how does the money work out? NYT could say I’m still on their website.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: subscription federation.

That’s one of the biggest problems with most news sites. Go to any news site (newspapers, tv networks, whatever), and look for outbound links. You’ll find some, of course, but not nearly what you see on blogs. They mostly link to themselves. Their mentality is, not surprising, that to direct someone to another site is bad because you want them to stay on your site. Much like the problem with paywalls, they are being shortsighted. Having lots of outbound links to useful sites improves the quality of your website, and makes it more likely that someone will come back. Trying to build a walled garden does not.

Vic B (profile) says:

Complex issue

We all agree the printed media is in dire straits. From free to about $4 at your news stand, the pendulum swings. I suspect many who are so veciforous for “free” content are more often consumers of content while those wanting to put a price on content are more likely producers of it. Self interest is a fairly accurate common denominator in all things human.
I don’t think anyone -dangerous idealists, teenagers and students who have never worked aside- believes information should be entirely free. Rather, the debate is who should be paying for that precious content. Should it be the consumer of it or could someone else pay for it in exchange for something else? That’s our pendulum.
The paradigm shifted when the internet offered a means to access consumers with little or no upfront investment costs -no paper, no printers, no warehouses, no trucks, etc.. no more barrier to entry. Sit at your pc and blog.. pretty simple, hey? Every Dick and Jane can now blurr out an opinion -as I do here- in response to an opinion piece and we are all exhilarated with ourselves believing that what we write matters, so who needs paid content? Mike Masnik (whose articles I often enjoy) doesn’t care, he makes a living off of the controversy itself and -I hope- a comfortable living.
But what about the news itself? Whose blog did you read to learn about the Haitian earthquake? Did you turn on your tv for which you most likely pay a subscription to? Did you go on the web to get the news from a recognized media outlet whose pages are loaded with advertisements? Fair amounts of money is spent to report that information and many outlets are competing with each other to get your attention. He who gets most attention gets most advertising dollars. But if that money is spread too thin and it becomes impossible for a news outlet to send journalists out, we will eventually be left with the Murdochs of the world to feed their interpretation of the news and hundreds of bloggers and talking heads to spin those feeds. More is less.

Ryan says:

Re: Complex issue

News organizations aren’t really any different from Mike – they don’t make the news, they just report the news, and anybody else can do it as well. The only difference is that CNN, Fox News, and the like are often primary sources, while many bloggers are secondary sources – although I would surmise that the latter offers much more opportunity for uniqueness and added value than the former, which is primarily graded on speed and accuracy vs. competing reporters.

But why do those organizations have to be the only ones that can report on events? You know who else are primary sources? All the other people that were there. For instance, in Iran when the woman was shot and killed, it was a bystander with a camera that revealed the incident, not Iranian news organizations that never would have shown such a thing in a million years. Or when the snowball fight in D.C. went down and the cop pulled a gun, mainstream media just recycled the report of the police, which is that eyewitnesses were mistaken and nobody pulled a gun. Of course, it was a bystander with a camera that exposed the lie.

Now that virtually everybody has a camera and an easy means to distribute it to the world, anybody can be a primary source. Most of what the legacy news report on is just press conferences or quotes from the government and other players anyway. Anybody can do that.

Vic B (profile) says:

Re: Re: Complex issue

I think we need to better define what “news” is and give it some sort of value hierarchy. Being the first to upload a video file of whatever on YouTube isn’t news in itself. I would venture to say that having millions of hits of that video doesn’t make it news either. It’s just an event among zillions of other events in our daily lives, with YouTube an outlet for voyeurs and exhibitionists. The only value in seeing a cop pulling a gun to a group of snowball throwers or a protester getting shot is the newness of capturing these events and disseminating them instantly worlwide. If we had cameras on every street corner feeding YouTube (gasp!) we’d continuously see hundreds of people getting shot, abused, mistreated and what not and that would quickly be boring.
None of this is news until it is analyzed and evaluated in a greater context. That’s what quality reporting and “news” is about and that’s why news organisations often have several journalists working hours and hours on producing valuable content. Is this capability limited to the paper media or the big news organizations? Certainly not. But they have been competing in a pond for a long time during which they’ve learned to perfect their skills and that’s why the NYT and at least a dozen other newspapers have gained recognition. Now that the pond has expended to a lake (an ocean?) there are probably hundreds of wannabe journalists with great writing skills who can now find alternative outlets to express their ideas. But the challenge remains: How are you going to make a living at blog.com if idealist newcomers are all willing to work for free? And who is going to read or even find you when 1000 others write about the same thing?
Aggregators are middlemen pulling the work of others and sticking advertisement all around it. How is that benefiting writers or those who pay the writers?

@Kat: Twitter?!? As I say above, saying “First!” doesn’t make anything news. I wish NPR would read what you have to say about their “free” content… their money drives are all about getting paid for their hard work!

What I find totally amazing is that people are going to whine about their $20/year news subscriptions while giving away $150/month for the hald dozen channels they actually look at on their cable television…

Kat says:

Re: Complex issue

Actually, I first heard about the earthquake from Twitter, although that was shortly followed by news reports from the AP and other large media outlets with enough money to get people on the ground. I don’t mind the advertisements on those sites—they’re no more intrusive than the huge pile of ads delivered with my mother’s multiple daily newspapers.
I’ve been involved with the newspaper business since before I could read—helping my mother fold & deliver papers before dawn, laying out stories on a light table with rubber cement, watching the big presses run at the distribution center—but I haven’t received a daily newspaper since I left home for college, and I don’t intend to change that.

All my news comes from “free” sources—news published online with advertisements, TV over-the-air with advertisements, even “listener-supported” public radio news doesn’t require me to pay in advance for a product I may or may not feel is worthwhile! This doesn’t mean the content providers are not getting paid, it just means they’ve found a way to make money without charging consumers directly. The NYT needs to ensure that their content is worth consuming, and then get it linked to from elsewhere so that their advertisers are getting the “eyeballs” they crave (and used to get from print ads). The paywall will hurt them more than it will help, I suspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Complex issue

>> Mike Masnik (whose articles I often enjoy) doesn’t
>> care, he makes a living off of the controversy itself
>> and -I hope- a comfortable living.

Mike makes a very comfortable living. But most of the revenue is a part of Techdirt’s back office business called “TechDirt BlackOPS”.

Techdirt BlackOPS offers “business tactical training,” and consulting under the company’s subdivisions: TechDirt BlackOPS Training Center, TechDirt BlackOPS Security Consulting and TechDirt Canine.

BlackOPS provides “a spectrum of support to business, government, and civilian entities in creating marketable business models, business operations and solutions development.” Their slogan is: “TechDirt BlackOps: Quit having your PR people send us press releases.”

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Complex issue

I don’t think anyone -dangerous idealists, teenagers and students who have never worked aside- believes information should be entirely free.

Not “should”, “will”. The important point is not that we want information to be free, but that economic forces tend to make information free, regardless of what anybody wants. Understand that, and fighting against it becomes obviously self-defeating. You’re not fighting against what other people are trying to do to you, you’re fighting against efficiencies that the market now enjoys. Absent government coercion, always a losing battle.

I don’t mean to put words in your mouth – you aren’t the “you” in the preceding paragraph, I’m referring to people (apparently including the NYT executives) who don’t understand this.

Anony1 says:

I guess I am saying I would be willing to pay, as it would give me a broad range of access to unique content. The argument here is that all news reporting is equal, which IMHO, is false. There are many organizations that give a unique editorial/investigative slant that I would pay for.
If the advertising model isn’t profitable, it doesn’t neccesarily mean that the news source isn’t worth paying for. The case with the NYTs may be that indeed, their news isn’t unique enough, and therefore, they are losing money.
Also the RIAA comparison isn’t applicable. Do all record companies have one federation online for accessing music? NO. So until you try it, who knows. I understand the implication that the complex fee collection structure/profit structure may be untenable, but until it is tried, it’s all opinion. It would be a big risk, but if it doesn’t work, they could go back to the old way. Perhaps in some form it could work.

@Mike Masnick: You said it wouldn’t work, but not why you think so. Just curious is all.

@Kat:The inconvenience of joining a cartel?! You would go to one web site, spend five minutes, and have access to multiple media sources. Wow…that just screams inconvenient right? LOL.

The idea intrigues me. It may not work, but it may.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“he argument here is that all news reporting is equal, which IMHO, is false.”

I don’t argue that they are all equal in some absolute sense, but that they are all equal in terms of their value to me: that is, I haven’t found their track record for accuracy and/or completeness to be much above abysmal. There may be (and most likely are) exceptions amongst the corporate media out there, but I have not yet become aware of them.

“There are many organizations that give a unique editorial/investigative slant that I would pay for.”

There are some that I would (and do) pay for as well. Consumer Reports, for instance. There are no newspapers that are unique and valuable enough to me to read regularly, let alone that warrant paying for. That may change (although if I have to pay to find out if they’re any good, I may never find out). Your economic equation is likely different than mine. Nothing wrong with that.

Anony1 says:

BTW, here is, IMHO, the weakness in the argument against the subscription federation. You say that it would be the same as one giant pay wall. In the case of TimesSelect however, that was just ONE site. Comparing a one site model, to a multi-site access model is, IMHO,comparing apples to oranges. It’s only the same argument if you accept that all news is reported, or investigated equally,
which is a straw man in my opinion.

Brad says:

Why write an article and give it away for free?

“Why are people against paying for things, if you don’t pay they don’t exist. I swear only internet/computer types beleive in that whole open source/freedom thing. If I make something and people want it, then pay up. Why would I write an in-depth and highly informative article and then give it away for free? doesn’t make sense.”

Actually, it makes perfect sense to do this, if your goal is to spread ideas. Even if your goal is to make money, you can still do so through advertising (and possibly offering an ad-free version of your site). However, the main reason why a person should write is not money, but rather to spread ideas. Copyright originated as an ingenious device for the ancien regime to suppress the spread of ideas after the invention of the printing press. Personally, I welcome the coming collapse of the New York Times and the other propagandists for the current Neo-Mercantilist regime. We need a media of real watchdogs, not the M$M lapdogs such as the New York Times, BSNBC, and Faux.

the_RAINMAN says:


HAHAHAHA!!!! YES. PLEASE for the love of all things holy make this decision! The NYT and all other government news outlets are already on the verge of death, why make it long and painful? You see, thanks to the wonderful internet, millions of us, mostly young people, arent NEARLY as naive and gullible as those who arent so connected. All your old ploys and tricks no longer work. Whereas you used to be dealing with a bunch of grown children who would believe ANYTHING you threw at them….we are much more savvy. Acting all “serious” and “professional” and “official” does not impress us, it begs only for laughter. We are already creating what needs to be created in order to replace you. The old system, one of heirarchy, one where all the adult-children cuddle up to the state for “protection” and “help” in all aspects of life, is quickly coming to an end. A new world is coming into view, and it’s not the one envisioned by GB senior. It is the global peer-to-peer society. It does not recognize boundaries. It does not recognize leaders. It only recognizes that all individuals are autonomous, free, and equal in terms of their sacred rights. It is only a matter of time before the old world crumbles and everything is lost for the establishment. Your attempts to stop us will all be in vein, and we have only to laugh at your desperation as you try to stop the inevitable. Rejoice, freedom lovers, a new and permanent dawn of liberty is at hand.

david j says:

news industry

I feel for the newspaper industry and the public. Most newspapers were our only good source of information on pending legislation, exposed antics by those in govt., local leaders and their morale makeup, and compiled stories that had sources checked and presented some integrity.

Regarding the web, there really are only a few sources of news and thousands of sites who republish the content.

I, for one, am getting tired of sites that are low on news and high on gossip and (not-necessarily accurate)opinion…
…and I just fell into the trap.

Anonymous Coward says:

I found the following quote at the Volokh Conspiracy interesting given that it is a professional blog for attorneys:

“As much as it pains me to do so, this is one subject where I must agree with Mr. Michael Masnick at his Techdirt website. Paywalls for news are a last gasp for online news services that are very likely, if not certainly, doomed to failure.

Mr. Masnick has examined this and other instances where paywalls have been deemed a potential panacea for much of what currently ails newspaper services, and aptly notes that paywalls are in general an attempt to maintain unsustainable business models in the face of the paradigm shift associated with the internet.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I found the following quote at the Volokh Conspiracy interesting given that it is a professional blog for attorneys:

Why did you find it “interesting” when that comment was written by *you*?

Separately, why is it “interesting” that such a comment would be on a professional blog for attorneys. The Volokh blog has linked to Techdirt multiple times in the past.

“As much as it pains me to do so, this is one subject where I must agree with Mr. Michael Masnick at his Techdirt website.

Why does it pain you to agree with me?

mr. bojangles says:


wow, there have to be some people from the NYT on here, acting like if the NYT goes down in flames that it will be the end of news! oh my!

actually i firmly believe that the world of news and opinion will greatly improve once these old dinosaurs finally go extinct. let’s not forget that these paid liars, as with all establishment outlets, are responsible for covering up massive crimes abroad and here on this giant piece of land often so creepily referred to as “home” by our loving overlords. they are 100% complicit in covering up theft and murder on an unbelievable scale. i think the disinformation “fog” will be greatly reduced once these behemoths have finally relinquished their last breaths.

and for all those complaining that no business model will work….this only reflects your own short-sightedness and lack of creativity. it’s the same giant wall that prevents you from conceiving of a world absent the extortion rackets and war profiteers. you think we NEED them. we need only to open the hearts and minds of people to the infinite possibilities….dont box yourself in with preconceived notions….never trust what anyone else tells you until it resonates with your own heart as true. freedom is here, we need only to reach out and take it.

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:

I Know That These Folks

should be paid for their work but this sort of thing is becoming more prevalent on the Web. We should not expect these people to work for nothing. The thing is I just don’t have the money for all these Web Sites. It’s not that I just won’t pay. I can’t afford to pay. Sorry New York Times and almost any other Web Sites that I enjoy getting my information from. I will just have to get it somewhere else on the Web for my monthly Web Service fee.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think a previous poster said it best, those that are producing an item tend to value their work and as such seek compensation for that. Those that don’t produce , don’t really see it.

I’ll just trot on down to your job at the office, the store, the studio or whereever and do your job completely free. Then when you’re fired because the boss is saving money on my free services I’ll laugh. Then when the day comes that everyone follows this path and no one can afford anything and we’re all out of a job….see where I’m going with this?

Now you can argue that you can get your information elsewhere, well bloggers get all their stuff somewhere right? I’d say the amount of re-posting opinionated bloggers overwhelmingly outnumbers the few bloggers who actually fancy themselves investigative journalists.

Sure you might like catching up on brand “X” blog, but what’ll happen when brand “X” has to do the work themselves, finance themselves, and live? cough cough paywalls again.


Anonymous Coward says:

working in web development I’m constantly amazed at how much advertisers spend on ads and how barely effective they are. When’s the last time you clicked on a banner ad let alone bought something after that? I never have and I know alot of people who haven’t either what with all the ad blocking software out there.

If advertisers ever wake up to web advertising rather than listen to what their contracted marketing team spits out, the web will change immediately.

unlapped_dog says:


I find it pretty incredible that some people such as Vic B actually believe that what these people engage in is in any sense “investigative journalism.” As always, this issue is framed in terms of “rupert murdoch and faux news vs. the liberal media.” Let’s try taking away the govt-colored glasses for a minute. All of these media outlets are merely bullhorns for state-connected special interests. There is not an ounce of “investigation” going on anywhere with these people. Their job is to toss softball questions to state-protected criminals and then do everything in their power to justify their out of control actions. They help to constantly help spread fear and hysteria, to stoke the flames of panic and keep the sheeple in a state of feeling utterly helpless. There is nothing “journalistic” here…only propoganda for the criminals who own the “land of the free” lock, stock, and barrell. Hell, these “journalists” are all friends with the people they “investigate.” They are all in the same clubs and social circles. They may compete with one another to some degree, but they all line up to protect the criminal racket known as the “government” against the rest of us lowly submitizens.

Vic B (profile) says:

Re: useless

Since you used my name to make your point , I find myself obligated to reply. To start with, I used Murdoch as an example because he is the most powerful media mogul in the world and the NYT because that paper is the source of this article. Nowhere do I suggest on is better than the other; that’s your assumption.
Finally, if I understand your rant, media is elitist and only serves their evil master, the government and its special interests….right? And your alternative would be?!? Because now that you’ve painted the world in black and white, I can’t wait to hear the white knight story…

Thomas (profile) says:

Imagine them trying...

to agree on which federation? Suppose they can’t agree on terms and you wind up with 5 different “subscription federations”; that would make it even more unlikely anyone would use it. NYT wouldn’t want to go on federation A since they don’t get enough money, Washington Post won’t go to federation B since they also serve NYT. Getting all the news outlets to agree on one federation is about as likely as the whole concept becoming successful.

batch (profile) says:

Beating the original paywall

For the first paywall, to beat it and get to the content, all you had to do was take the link, put it in Google’s search, then click the link that Google gave back when it couldn’t find any results.

This one may work the same. The reasoning for the first time around was that they wanted Google users to find their news, so any traffic from Google to the NY Times was brought right in with no hassle.

BAlbrecht (profile) says:

Elevator Operator

NPR radio just did an interesting story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122457774) on the elevator system in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. One of the items in the story was about the Last Elevator Operator in D.C.–something we should all truly lament.

History is full of stories of how technology has made certain professions obsolete. Shall we pass legislation outlawing automatic elevators? Shall we subsidize elevator rides with admission fees–or even better, tax dollars?

Sadly the world of professional news journalism is undergoing major upheaval. Does this mean the end of news-gathering or quality reporting? To listen to some, you would think so. But take a broad look at history and you will likely realize that what is taking its place is far more useful and valuable to our culture than newspapers ever were. That is, unless you are one of those who hate to push the button to reach your floor, longing for the day when you had to pay someone else to operate the lift for you….

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