It Took The NY Times 14 Months And $40 Million Dollars To Build The World's Stupidest Paywall?

from the maybe-we-can-confuse-people-into-giving-us-money dept

We’ve been waiting patiently for almost 14 months since the NY Times announced that it was going to take another crack at a paywall — something that it had massively failed at last time around. You would figure that given that amount of time, maybe they’d actually get something right. Instead, it looks like they may have gotten almost everything wrong. I’d point you to the NY Times’ own explanation of the amazingly complex paywall, but I don’t want to use up your limited number of “free page” views, so instead, I’ll point you to everyone else’s, often much more intelligent, analysis of the paywall, starting with Felix Salmon, who works through the details and can’t make any sense of it.

For starters, the plan is confusing. You get 20 page views for free. You can also get around the paywall five times per day if you come via a search engine. Or are reading one of their blogs. Or come via a link from another site, which might mean I can link to NYT stories, but why risk it? Top news is sorta free and certain stories might be free. Maybe. Then, if you’re a paper subscriber you get the website for free. Okay, so what’s the paywall. For $15 for every four weeks (not every month), you get access to everything on a laptop/desktop or a smartphone. But not an iPad (um, unless you use a browser, I guess). For $5 more you lose the smartphone access, but gain iPad/tablet access. Huh? Exactly. For $35 every four weeks you can get the NY Times on both a smartphone and the iPad. Oh, and if you pay, you still see all the ads. And, finally, this is the introductory pricing. Who the hell knows what the final pricing is. So sign up and expect to have to pay more later. Isn’t that appealing?

They spent 14 months and over $40 million on this?!?

It feels like something that was completely developed by committee group-think. It’s one of those things where they’re sitting around and someone timidly suggests a dumb idea (“I know, for $5 more we take away their smartphone access”) and, because they have to come up with something, someone else says “sure” and then they think there’s validation of a good idea. But there’s no one brave enough in the room to say: “Guys, the newspaper is digital. Charging different amounts based on the hardware is like charging people different prices for listening to the same music on headphones vs. speakers.” But no one did that. And because they had a committee, who kept making bad suggestions like this, and 14-months to keep upping the stupid, they spent over $40 million on it.

And here it is. Well, if you’re in Canada, that is. Why? Who knows? The NY Times apparently decided to see if they could set off the mocking bomb in a remote area by launching in Canada first, where perhaps they hoped people would be too polite to say “this is dumber than putting gravy on french fries.” If you’re in the US, you have a few more weeks to get your life in order and to stop reading the NY Times.

Digging into the economics, I’m having trouble seeing how this helps at all. Obviously, some people will pay. But it’s not going to be nearly enough to overcome the costs of this program and the likely massive cost in customer service to deal with putting forth the most confusing paywall possible. On top of that, it will decrease people going to the actual website, meaning fewer ad impressions, meaning that they’re killing off ad revenue at a time when ad revenue has been going up significantly. Last time the NY Times did a paywall (for just its columnists), many of the columnists got annoyed that their work was hidden away, which made them significantly less relevant. In the last few months I’ve spoken to a bunch of journalists at newspapers who are considering paywalls, and all those journalists seem to be considering finding a non-clueless publication to work for.

Oh, and missing from all of this? Any attempt to add value. There’s nothing new of value to pay for. Just a paywall. Which takes away value.

Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but I can’t see how something like this succeeds. It’s like a giant experiment in wrongness. It gets the user motivation wrong. It gets the economic model wrong. It gets the pricing wrong. It gets the value proposition wrong. It’s the perfect combination of wrongness, which they now want you to pay for. I think I’ll pass.

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Comments on “It Took The NY Times 14 Months And $40 Million Dollars To Build The World's Stupidest Paywall?”

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166 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

This of this as part of the web3.0. You know, the web where people actually pay small amounts of the stuff they truly value, and where those people who attempt to profit from the work of others have a harder time doing it.

The time is ripe for a good, solid, and reliable micropayment system to handle all of this. I wonder which one of the payment players will step up?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“This of this as part of the web3.0. You know, the web where people actually pay small amounts of the stuff they truly value, and where those people who attempt to profit from the work of others have a harder time doing it.”

Just to be clear (since you don’t seem to want to be), are you suggesting that this particular paywall will be any kind of success? Would you go on any kind of record saying so? Did you eat paint chips as a child?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, I don’t think any one particular solution or subscription model will work (I hate the term paywall, it is the n-word of the internet). Rather, I think that the golden “it’s all free all the time” era of the internet has run it’s course, and over time, more and more source material companies (those with actual content of value) will move to more protected systems.

It may be a question of a “pay for use” app, example. We aren’t far from HTML5, from Android based home computers, and “apps” on the desktop. Those apps, instead of being free, could be sold with a monthly update fee, example.

This particular payment setup? Who knows? I just think it is another step in a direction that won’t be popular on Techdirt, but is a very logical step for business that actually create value (rather than sponging off of other people’s value).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

…Of course, the highest traffic sites on the internet all rely on being free and accessible to make their money.

The Times Newspaper? That’s really a drop in the bucket when it comes to internet traffic.

It’s hardly a trend when the major players are all pointing and laughing, and all the minor players are trying it out and failing miserably.

Jaws4theRevenge (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“over time, more and more source material companies (those with actual content of value) will move to more protected systems.”

Are you implying that the NY Times is a “source material company”? A company that writes about the exploits of others? It seems to me like they are profiting from the work of others.

Or, do they add value? If they add value, can others not add value to the NY Times pieces or is that where the buck stops?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Those apps, instead of being free, could be sold with a monthly update fee, example.”

To be fair, monthly update fees and paywalls are two different animals. W/an update fee, your theoretically getting added value through your subscription. Antivirus companies do this, for instance, with virus/spam/malware/whatever definition updates released to those with active maintenance. It’s valuable and provides a reason to buy.

How does the pay per use app model incorporate that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

An app can be the doorway to the site as well. You cannot access content without the app, and the app is serial numbered and tracked (and must be renewed monthly to remain active). It’s another way of accessing content (instead of a browser).

Updating it monthly would only be for the purposes of getting continued access. It would also allow the publisher to present content in other manners outside of the restrictions of traditional browsers.

I am not sure that there would be anything good in a “pay per use” app for single actions. That might be something that would exist in a more general app that would allow a small micropayment “access fee” for single shots. It really depends on how people want to work with that sort of a system.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“It would also allow the publisher to present content in other manners outside of the restrictions of traditional browsers.”

To be clear there is nothing about a payment system that allows a publisher to do anything. They can put their content on whatever they want.

I highly doubt this is a trend that will catch on. More and more content is being made available for free all over the place. More importantly news, as a form of content, is coming less and less from the ‘mainstream’ press and more from social connections.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Steven, that is the common misconception. Actually, there is more and more talking about content being passed off as content (including the posts and comments here). When you clear off all the (tech)dirt and debris, you find very few sites actually making their own pure content. Everything is leveraged on someone else.

When the sites that are being leveraged are no longer freely available, people will end up leveraging each other’s opinions and crud. That leads to, well, crud.

Where do you think your social connections get the news from?

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You seem to be under this strange impression that organization like the NYT make the news. They don’t. They are not the source material for the news (at least not most of the time). They talk about the news, just like everybody else. There was a time that their ability to put people in places around the world allowed them to aggregate that news more easily than the average person, but that time is over.

The NYT is nothing more and a news aggregator and commentator.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

What makes the NYT different is:

1) They have actual reporters on staff who follow things up and actually get new information for stories.

2) They have photographers, editors, and so on on staff actually working to produce new, unique content

3) They actually write their own content, they don’t just copy it from other sites.

Yes, they use newswires and such. But they pay for that privilege.

It’s sort of hard to compare that to Google news or Jalopnik.

Christopher Weigel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

What makes Techdirt different is:

1) They have actual reporters on staff who follow things up and actually get new information for stories. Further, as a specialized website, each of those reporters probably qualifies as a subject matter expert in the field they’re reporting on.

2) They don’t treat writing as a “collective” and understand that 2 mediocre writers (one writing, one editing) don’t make one excellent writer.

3) They actually write their own content, they don’t just copy it from other sites.

Yes, they use other websites and such. But they pay for that privilege. It’s just that it’s Attention instead of Cash (which, again, through advertising is about the same thing)

It’s sort of hard to compare that to New York Times, which is a relic of a bygone era and very rarely does it’s own proper “reporting”. Unless you really want to claim that every independent writer they contract because he happens to live in an area of interest is the pinnacle of journalistic excellence?

A Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

When you clear off all the (tech)dirt and debris, you find very few sites actually making their own pure content.

That sounds a whole like the way most newspapers use news wires now.

When the sites that are being leveraged are no longer freely available

Your prediction requires that all useful news sources put up paywalls, and that no new ones take their place. Those seem like crazy assumptions.

Christopher Weigel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

See, here’s the thing. The internet is not, in fact, “free” for people. That’s a misconception and precisely what drove the NYT (amongst others) to this massively ill-conceived paywall.

We, the common users of the internet, pay with our attention. We pay attention to the website, and therefore the ads on the site. If said ads are well built, we might even pay the owners of the ads with real money.

Vice-versa, the owners of said ads pay the owner of the site (in real money) for some portion of the attention they’ve collected from us. In this sense, content websites are nothing more than middlemen, trying to set up meetings between users and advertisers.

Buried in that is the reason why this paywall won’t work. The amount of money these middlemen will be able to get from users is piss-poor compared to the amount they can get from advertisers.

Put another way, 100000 people who regularly visit your website (and pay nothing) are probably worth considerably more to your bottom line than 100 people who are stupid enough to pay for your content. It’s the reason why newspaper printing operates at a loss.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

We, the common users of the internet, pay with our attention.

Yes, this is 100% correct.

The problem? Pre-internet there was no way to measure the effectiveness of advertisements. Companies just spent as much as they felt they could afford and prayed. The internet caused a lot of price changes in a lot of markets but none more drastically than advertising; click-through measures basically proved that people are somewhat immune to direct marketing.

Of course, that should have caused a contraction in the business of selling advertisements (ex. fewer newspapers) but so far it just seems that most newspapers are shrinking instead of consolidating.

I hope this paywall puts the NY Times out of business; like a soldiers head on a pike, it will warn others away.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Rather, I think that the golden “it’s all free all the time” era of the internet has run it’s course, and over time, more and more source material companies (those with actual content of value) will move to more protected systems.

Let’s change internet to broadcast TV and radio. Are you willing to state on the record that NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Clear Channel, et al. will either be moving off of broadcast TV and radio and/or that they have no “actual content of value”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

One only has to look at the cable / sat / IPtv business and their continuing increases in viewership to understand that it has been going on already. Only a small percentage of all entertainment is now “free to air”, most of the rest of it is hidden behind delivery systems (which in turn pay per user subscription fees to the channels for their use).

Your question is incredibly valid, and the results speak for themselves. “free to air” TV and radio both are working to put more ads, to bring in enough money to stay relevant, all the while jockeying to make sure that they are available cable and sat systems as well, because they know where the market it. The ratings show that more and more people are watching cable instead of OTA.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s not quite as clear cut as you make it sound. TV has certainly moved steadily into the realm of ‘paid’ being the standard (although I would argue that has been in large part due to legally setup monopolies). Radio on the other hand has remained free and attempts to move it towards a ‘paid’ model have had limited success for a number of reasons. Radio is even bring in new free options with HD radio (although I think the HD moniker is a bit misleading).

So maybe if we forced monopolies into various internet sectors we could move it all to a paid system?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I don’t believe that is correct you are talking about the U.S. market alone which is an idiosyncrasy in the world where almost everybody else gets their programming from OTA, also is worth pointing out that cable subscriptions appear to have reached a ceiling and are contracting according to the latests numbers so you were saying…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Let’s change internet to broadcast TV and radio. Are you willing to state on the record that NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Clear Channel, et al. will either be moving off of broadcast TV and radio and/or that they have no “actual content of value”?”

What newspapers are going through now should be hitting broadcast tv pretty soon, its models are also going to have to change but first piracy will be blamed and something will have to be done!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Rather, I think that the golden “it’s all free all the time” era of the internet has run it’s course[…]

Those of us who actually built the Internet beg to differ.

One of the reasons why you can post your comments here, in fact, one of the reasons why you have even learned what the word “Internet” means in some sense, is that the notion of “free” is wired into the Internet’s DNA. This was a deliberate design choice, and it shows up in a number of ways: for example, open standards and open source are the backbone of the Internet.

Now, we know that many people — like you — eschew this freedom because the only method you have for valuation is “how much money did we make?”. That’s why you didn’t build the Internet: you’re quite incapable of it. And that’s why you struggle with the Internet: you’re trying to make it a profit machine when it was designed to be a freedom machine.

And that’s why you’ll lose. (Surely you don’t think we’ve devoted our entire professional lives to this, only to let some latecomers eager for a quick buck screw it up? Keep dreaming.) The future does not need you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Actually its an example of how investing in clever people to do clever things, purely for the sake of doing clever things has much more potential to generate business than business people making investment decisions based on a perceived potential for generating income based on precendent.

Its why clever people built the internet and created html and all the other goodies
and why the majority of 2nd and 3rd rate business people invest in the latest thing to have a strong similarity to something that made a hell of a lot of money for the first person who did it, good money for the second, reasonable money for the third but are suprised when the nth iteration doesn’t bring in the money and then blame piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Oh, and ++ for the (completely inaccurate) plug about content creators not making money on the web — it’s hilarious when whiny little children try to claim “the internet” somehow “rips off” content creators when the actual case is that content creators who work with the medium, instead of trying to dictate terms to it, end up making more money than ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yep, mike is a capitalist.

Wish you could understand what capitalism is truly about.

It’s kinda socialist for government to protect outdated business models with laws which leach money from the economy when there are more efficient ones.

Provide a customer with something they want to pay for instead of trying to control them = WIN!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with socialism.
Given that it is fundamentally about the individuals who do the work getting the rewards rather than unnecessary middlemen who overvalue their own contribution and seriously undervalue those who create the product and/or content.

The pressures pitting socialism and capitalism have always been fundamentally pressures caused by limited supply, given that both are simply mechanisms of apportioning those limited supplies.
The digital era, does away with those particular pressures for digital goods and so free market capitalism on the internet for those types of digital goods suddenly becomes a lot more like socialism and vice versa than many people would have expected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

A little too late there, as the internet has been a profit machine for years.

As long as you’re not a content creator, that is.

I’m sure that there are some limited people with limited minds who believe this — because it’s all they can see.

Superior people, with superior vision, know that all online commerce combined is insignificant. It’s a mere passing blip of no long-term importance. We did not build the Internet so that Amazon could sell books or Sony could sell music or eBay could hold auctions or any of that. All of these operations are transient: they will eventually collapse, dry up and blow away in the wind.

I know you can’t see this. Your petulant insistence on satiating your own greed blinds you. That’s why you’re incapable of seeing the future, let alone creating it.

But other people — better people — are dreaming and building that future all around you. They’re running daring experiments, many of which have been discussed here. Some of those experiments are so brilliant that they make corporations wet their pants, governments vomit in fear…and we see the backlash as a result.

But it doesn’t matter. The future is coming. It is inevitable, and no corporation, no government, no individual will be allowed to stop it.

Christopher Weigel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

…What?

Were you high when you wrote this? Because it sounds like you were high when you wrote this.

And please, do enlighten how you “built” the internet, like it’s some sort of magical faerie dream land. The Internet is, by and large, a creation of the masses – My creation just as much as yours. And considering the jumble of components, ideas, etc. that went into building it, claiming there’s some sort of grand “future” that’s inevitable rings a little hollow.

And drug-induced.

Another Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ummm, you do know about TV news, right? The news is available faster (earlier) and with richer content (audio & video) than the dead-tree edition of the NY Times can deliver. It is available for zero dollars and zero cents. It is available from reporters who actually go to the places where the events they cover are happening.

It has been that way for decades now. Dead-tree NYT (or LA Times or London Times or [whatever paper you wish to name]) offers little or no value other than tradition. Online NYT free-rides on that tradition.

You’re right that “everything costs nothing” isn’t going to last forever, but NYT is making a serious mistake here. If this lasts long enough, it may cost the whole business.

sta303 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ummmm, you know TV news deliver 1/40th of the information a traditional local newspaper does. Everything is a sound byte. I guess that will satisfy a nerfball, but it doesn’t come close to being worth what you pay for it. Which is nothing. Which is why every week you will hear them read through the first half of the first paragraph of a NY Times article. But I guess that is good enough for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

There were these brilliant people long ago who thought up the brilliant idea of a way to make money was to embed adds in content. You could still talk on the phone, take a shit, talk to your wife when the commercials were on, but they still made money.

There are and will be these brilliant people who find a way to make money from the internet. WOW! capitalism at work. Imagine that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You mean just like free over the air TV or free radio?
I don’t think people realize that people already pay for things on the internet otherwise there would be no Google’s and Facebook’s is just that older business don’t know how to monetize the internet and they should die, the new kings are already making money and billions of it, all the while offering almost everything they can think of for free.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Rather, I think that the golden “it’s all free all the time” era of the internet has run it’s course

I see zero evidence of this ever happening. If anything, I see more companies using “it’s all free all the time” to make loads and loads of money, by adding value to what is actually free.

more and more source material companies (those with actual content of value) will move to more protected systems.

Again, I don’t see this happening. Whenever this has been tried, it has failed.

We aren’t far from HTML5, from Android based home computers, and “apps” on the desktop.

You don’t see the irony of this? HTML5 is an open standard. The move to HTML5 is partially so that people like Apple don’t have to pay people like Adobe to use Flash (they’ll use Ogg or VP8 instead, both open source). Android is also open source. These things are gaining popularity because they’re free (in every sense of the word).

Those apps, instead of being free, could be sold with a monthly update fee, example.

a very logical step for business that actually create value (rather than sponging off of other people’s value).

None of the major Internet players made money by “sponging off of other people’s value.” They all created value. That’s how they made money.

Don’t believe me? Look at how many websites use ASP instead of PHP, or Windows Server instead of Apache.

This doesn’t mean content producers can’t make money by charging for things. It’s just that the “things” they charge for can’t be infinite goods. Maybe it’s for a user-friendly distribution system (a la Steam, who made $1 billion in 2010), or add-ons to free products, or whatever.

But moving to “more protected systems” won’t make anyone more money.

I think about this sort of thing a lot. My brother is creating a game for Android and iPads, and he’s trying to figure just such a system out. (One idea was to have free user accounts, but charge for upgrades to that account, like the ability to play more than one game at a time.)

Phillip says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

While I’m not familiar with the last two, so I can’t speak to them I would argue that there is a significantly debateable aspect about Vista being a “downgrade” from XP.

However, since I’m not here to start an OS holy war, I’ll point out my use of the word “generally” implying that while I’m aware this is not ALWAYS the case, it is USUALLY the case. Forest for the trees, bud.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

USUALLY the case.

K. If you say so, although just because it is in all caps does not make it so.

In my experience as a tech in the industry, that is not usually the case. I watch version upgrade after version upgrade, and we support 6000+ applications.
Cs3 for example.
CS4 few benefits for the cost and was a nightmare to package.
CS5 – even worse.
IBM DB2 v8 – v9
IBM Rational 6 – 7
Any version of Tibco components.
Nero 7,8,9 – Bloat, bloat, and more bloat.
Altiris SVS > Symantec Workspace Virtualization
Even Altiris DS 6.8 to 6.9 had issues.
Pipkins Vantage Point
HP ServiceDesk 4.5 > HP Service Manager
And I can go on and on.

“but you know that when version numbers increase, generally the new version is better than the old one right?”
Did you not mean for that to be a question? Did you mean for it to be a condescending “but you know that when version numbers increase” While admitting “Um, I know not everyone is a software guru”? Yeah…OK…bud-e.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So you’d rather do all your work on Windows 3.1 or a Linux 1.x kernel?

There are tens of thousands of software products out there; it’s easy to cherry-pick the counter-examples (and yes, there are a *lot* of mis-steps in software development), but that still doesn’t make you right — it just makes you biased and willing to waste effort to prove it.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

but you know that when version numbers increase, generally the new version is better than the old one right?
Another AC shoots off at the mouth.

“it’s easy to cherry-pick the counter-examples” So by your own words, there are plenty of lousy examples out there, correct? Yeah I picked a few.

“but that still doesn’t make you right” Right? I was pointing out the error in Phillip’s assumption that newer is better.

it just makes you biased and willing to waste effort to prove it.
Biased? To what? Prove what? We get software in, be it an upgrade or new, it gets loaded on to a test machine, and it’s performance gets evaluated. I get to actually see how it impacts our users, and the hardware we have them on.

Troll smarter not harder.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Micropayments not in terms of “this article” but “this source” or “this site”. Paying pennies a day to be able to access site X, example. The “micro” nature of it being that with enough volume, that cost per user could be $1-$5 a month. That is “micro”, in that the overhead to collect the money would be a significant part of the cost if you did it on an individual case basis (see the costs related to a single download on Itunes to understand the issue).

The idea of a micropayment system is to allow you to charge a single larger amount (with only the overhead for a single transaction) and then allow smaller “sub-payments” to go out to various places you choose to subscribe to or buy from. Keeping the overhead low, it would allow for much more user friendly pricing points.

As for your “Willing to put your money where your mouth is”? question, what makes you think I haven’t already done so? 😉 Seriously, it would be in the category of a “long bet”, as this isn’t something that we can come back to in September and whip up the old Bush era “Mission Accomplished” sign. It’s something that will have to be looked at maybe 5 to 10 years from now when we are able to see where the net is going.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s interesting that you think that we need to look at in 5 to 10 years to see where the net is going.

Meanwhile I haven’t bought a paper in nearly a decade.

A paywall says that the Times has no idea what the news is. Information is free. Many, many people are willing to write and organize facts without direct payment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes, but a decade after you stopped, plenty of people still buy a paper. That is the problem. Your personal experience may differ, but to truly understand something you have to stand back from your own experience and look at the overall experiences of people as whole.

Newspapers are still being sold, are still relevant, and heck, are being handed out for free in many of the underground transit systems of the world. You not buying it didn’t change anything by itself.

Many, many people are willing to write and organize facts without direct payment

The key is that many of those people “organizing facts” are using papers such as the NYT as source material for their facts. If they actually had to go and get facts themselves (or pay for wire services to get it for them), they wouldn’t be doing it for free.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“The key is that many of those people “organizing facts” are using papers such as the NYT as source material for their facts.”

Or, just maybe, with this internet thing being all over the place, people that are actually close to the newsworthy events (people in an earthquake for example?) are supplying all the raw materials.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not really. The Japan Earthquake has proven how un-enjoyable and un-productive it is to allow the “eye witness” type reporters to prattle on, because they are not very good at reporting what is really going on. What you get instead is the news equivilant of 5 blind guys trying to describe an elephant. Each one has a leg, and one got the trunk. Depending on who you listen to, the story is completely different at each end.

The real power of news comes when reporters talk to each of those people, put the stories together, and write (or edit and record for TV) a meaningful story with some fact checking, some official sources, etc. I watched the Earthquake and Tsunami live via multiple sources. That was informative. The stuff after was less informative, and only now is the true story being told, after people have had time to put the information together in a meaningful fashion.

The firehose of twitter, facebook, and other online sources was meaningless. It was a room of a thousands of people with bullhorns all yelling their own problems at the same time. It didn’t really make any sense and didn’t add to my understanding of the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“Not really. The Japan Earthquake has proven how un-enjoyable and un-productive it is to allow the “eye witness” type reporters to prattle on, because they are not very good at reporting what is really going on”

mmmmmm what! the internet has proven there is no gatekeeper to news. People want news how they want it. Some people want the “un-enjoyable and un-productive” reality of eye witnesses.

“The firehose of twitter, facebook, and other online sources was meaningless” Some pretty good bullshit there! Last message from Egypt looks like freedom wherever it might lead.

And at last….. agenda showing. Put that shit away. No one likes to look at it.

Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Micropayments, i think, are an interesting solution. But it can’t for the umbrella. Buy into a whole site is just not going to work. Even for porn it doesn’t really work. It’s got to be for the ornaments. That’s what people like buying after all. Let the substance the customer *expects* be the loss leader and strike at the unnecessary items that the customer *wants*.

Which kind of plays back into the notion of adding value, really.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Quote:

The key is that many of those people “organizing facts” are using papers such as the NYT as source material for their facts. If they actually had to go and get facts themselves (or pay for wire services to get it for them), they wouldn’t be doing it for free.

Because its free, if it where not they would find their own channels, are you willing to bet otherwise?

LumpyDog (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Methinks you fail to understand the basic tenets of supply and demand.

Let me lay this out for you. Suppose I love Jalopnik (and I do, really). Right now Jalopnik is free. I get entertaining automotive-themed content along with a smattering of relevant-to-me ads. Jalopnik gets my eyeballs.

Let’s say they decide to put up a paywall. Now, were Jalopnik the only source around for snark-filled automotive new, I’d have to nut up and pay. But they’re NOT. And even if they were, others would quickly fill the void with their own free websites — the barriers to entry are simply too low for that not to happen.

This is why paywalls will never, ever work for companies that just charge for what used to be free. Those that find the scarce good and add value will succeed, yeah, but that’s not what the Times are doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Jalopnik is a great example. Top story when I get there is:

http://www.jalopnik.com/5783014/lamborghini-estoque-production-rumors-return

But really, it is just a front door for:

http://www.insideline.com/lamborghini/lamborghinis-future-revealed.html

See, if Edmunds moves behind a subscription model, Jalopnik now has less to talk about. Their value is created only by standing on the shoulders of others. If they lose those free sources, your favorite site because less valuable to you.

Jalopnik isn’t something I could picture with a subscription model. But it is also not a site that is specifically creating it’s own unique content, as much as just pointing to the work of others. If they run out of places to point to, what do they do?

LumpyDog (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Unlikely.

Edmunds’ ability to source information is predicated on their ability to attract readers. Going behind a paywall would drastically diminish the number of readers, and the useful information would then migrate to wherever those readers happen to be.

That’s the fatal flaw in most paywall scenarios. The paywall believers seem to think information providers can somehow corner the market on their sources, when most sources want to expose their information to as many people as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Insideline is not essential you miss where that story came from, somebody pointed them out to them, one of the many many auto enthusiasts probably, if it was not Insideline it would have been one of the millions of fan websites dedicated to auto all free the vast majority from fan sites like.

http://www.lambocars.com/

Try typing:

Auto fan
Auto fans
Lamborghini fan
Lamborghini fans
Car fan
Car fans

You do realize that fans will always, always keep track of what they like and even pay to go to places and get original footage of things right?

I have this friend who got a press card being a blogger so he could visit the Lamborghini factory and he is so knowledgeable about everything Lamborghini that he landed a paid job in an auto blog, do any paid site offers a better insight that is worth paying for?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But it is also not a site that is specifically creating it’s own unique content, as much as just pointing to the work of others. If they run out of places to point to”

The huge problem with this argument is thinking there is no where else valuable content comes from.

Sure, Edmunds provides valuable content, but if they put up a pay wall, it just opens up the opportunity for some other company, who provides => value to take over the market.

There are some really brilliant people who grasp the opportunities the internet provides. They will win. Nothing special, just capitalism at work.

Oh yeah, i forgot to add…. your agenda is showing. Again.

(ps hope you can find a more fulfilling job someday. Life is so much better when you have a job where you don’t try to manipulate people. But if that’s just you being you… have fun with that!)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This has me confused as well. The “20 times a month” thing? If it uses cookies or Flash storage, those can be easily gotten around with private browsing or turning flash off (which is how I spend 90% of my time in browser). If it uses HTML5 storage, then there’s an awful lot of IE8- users who will not be tracked properly. If you have to sign up for the free stuff, then it’s a non-starter for a ton of folks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Views referred from search engines are free 5 times per day? I wonder if they realize how trivial it would be to create a bookmarklet that prompts you for a URL and then dynamically inserts a link to it in whatever page you’re viewing. Load up any google search results page and make it contain a link to any NYT page you want on the fly…

Joe Publius says:

A self-study in the NYTimes Paywall

While the paywall was down, I used to go to the NY Times website, primarily for the Freakonomics blog. Then the paywall came up. Being me, I referred to my three consumer commandments:

1. I like free stuff. Well, no longer free, that’s not good.

2. If it’s not free, I don’t mind cheap. $15 for access every four weeks? Who do they think they are, World of Warcraft? *insert geekish chortle/snort here*

3 . I’ll pay more if I feel like I’m getting my “money’s worth”. Since things pretty much croaked at 2, saying that it didn’t pass 3 is pretty apparent.

For the wire news, there are places I can go to get it for free. Since I don’t live anywhere near NY, the rest of the stories were just fun little tidbits I can live without. And most importantly, the Freakonomics blog moved, not wishing to be behind a paywall. So, for me at least, this paywall took away the site’s primary value.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A self-study in the NYTimes Paywall

In reference to #2, and something all content providers should think about….

I pay Blizzard $15/mon for WoW….and I spend 45 hrs a week on their servers, playing the game. I am entertained the whole time. 45 hours of entertainment PER WEEK (180 hrs a month), for $15.

Can NYT, or any other content provider with paywalls even provide 180 hours of entertainment a month?

Probably not.

Hence, you are doing it wrong…..*poke poke*

sta303 (profile) says:

I guess in a world where we get everything for free, we won’t need a salary. We can all troll around picking at and taking the fruits of other’s labor, and freely give to others everything we create. Of course, until that Utopia is born, the journalists and publishers of NYT have decided it would be nice to get compensated for their work. In that regard, they are much like me. I prefer my paycheck every two weeks, and don’t be late with it. Mike seems to believe that he (always) has THE business model that will work for Every industry – including those he knows little or nothing about. But apparently nobody quite trusts Mike and his models, or else he would be running everything from The Recording Industry to the Telecom Giants, from the NYTimes to Chevron. Hell, let’s just vote Mike ‘King of the World’ – then maybe we will have his vision of Utopia where everything is free, and the leprechauns magically make the pot of Gold appear. Or maybe not. I have lived in SF and Denver the past 10 years, and both cities once had at least two marginally impressive newspapers. Today, both have a single piece of cr&p that calls itself a newspaper. We are ALL less better off for our penny pinching. Sometimes you really get what you pay for.

Punmaster (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Of course, until that Utopia is born, the journalists and publishers of NYT have decided it would be nice to get compensated for their work.”

They were getting compensated. By the ad sales. That were valuable because of all the users that read the stories. Just like the paper version was.

Now, they’ll have less users reading.

So the ads will be worth less.

I’m thinking that this experiment is going to be another dismal failure.

sta303 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There was always a cost to a newspaper. Adverts never covered the full cost of production. When the advertisers are paying fully for the content, I wouldn’t trust it anymore. You would never get the dirt on Proctor & Gamble, that’s for sure. For the press to be independent, the people who want and need the information need to be paying a fair share. Otherwise you have a press much like the one we have today — a “free” press that is totally beholden to the corporate giants. Newspapers used to break stories and uncover the slime. Today, the print the press releases. As I said, you get what you pay for.

Punmaster (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“The vast majority of major newspapers are NOT free.”

What’s your point?

Ads pay for much of the cost newspaper production and distribution.
Subscription pays for part of newspaper production and distribution.

I don’t see too many newspapers that are ad free.
I see tons of examples of newspapers that are subscription free.

Which one do YOU think provides more money?

Adapt or die – that’s the choices facing the NY Times, WaPo, and the Toronto Sun. (However, I would only miss two of the three of these – guess which ones!)

sta303 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There was always a cost to a newspaper. Adverts never covered the full cost of production. When the advertisers are paying fully for the content, I wouldn’t trust it anymore. You would never get the dirt on Proctor & Gamble, that’s for sure. For the press to be independent, the people who want and need the information need to be paying a fair share. Otherwise you have a press much like the one we have today — a “free” press that is totally beholden to the corporate giants. Newspapers used to break stories and uncover the slime. Today, they print the press releases. As I said, you get what you pay for.

Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Pretty much every media in existence right now relies either exclusively or primarily on ad revenue to exist. Where do you think TV comes from, magic land? And do you honestly believe the pittance it costs to subscribe to the local paper actually covers anything besides maybe printing costs? If that?

You’re looking at the world upside down my friend. Hate to break it to ya. Here, I know what will cheer you up: have a cool refreshing Coke!

sta303 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If what you want is a world where all the information is filtered through a company funded by (and beholden to) advertisers alone, then you are the one drinking the Coke. You should feel that fizz in your brain right now. I will wager you bought GOLD from that company Glenn Beck was hawking, too. You know, there is difference between FREE and FREEDOM, my friend. And nothing is EVER free. If you prefer to have some account executive at Chevron or Proctor & Gamble decide what is news for you, then so be it. I would rather chip in a buck a week and have the editor accountable to ME.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually adverts always covered the cost of everything except the actual print run and distribution. With the more popular papers they did fully cover those too.

So why did they charge?
Advertisers felt that people were more likely to actually be reading the paper (And therefore seeing their ads) if they actually had to fork something out, otherwise they could be just picking up free papers to clean dog doings off their shoes, lining the floor of the rabbit hutch or toilet training the puppy.

On the internet, the advertisers have a much better idea or how many people have seen their ads and even better,
know how many people were interested enough to click through.

The problem for the newspaper industry is that
advertisers have a much better idea how effective their internet ads are.
It is impossible for the online side of newspapers to get the same kind of money from advertisers that they used to get when the advertisers had no idea how effective their ads were (which rather suggests advertisers have been getting ripped off for decades,the poor dears).

RikuoAmero (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Lemme spell it out for ya since you seem to be on an anti-Mike angle here. You can be against him, I don’t care, but in this case, what he is saying is correct.

1) Journalist writes an article for NYT.
2) Article is put up on NYT.com, where anyone can read it for free.
3) How does the journalist get paid, I hear you ask? NYT.com has advertisements. The more people who read the article, the more ads seen, the more ad revenue NYT.com receives. The journalist thus gets his pay check.
4) Suddenly, a paywall appears. There is no value added, just a hand reaching out to grab money. And there are STILL ADS. Less people read the articles, as they don’t want to now pay for something that used to be free. Very few people will sign up for the paywall (the craziest thing is having to pay for two subscriptions to read NYT.com on both smartphone and iPad).
5) Paywall is what causes the journalist to move from NYT.com. S/he doesn’t want to stay with a medium that is actively shrinking their audience in the fastest way possible.

sta303 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except you are avoiding the obvious FACT that papers are shuttering all across America BECAUSE the AD REVENUE is NOT ENOUGH to sustain them. What part of WENT OUT OF BUSINESS don’t you understand? Advertiser would LOVE for us to have only a HANDFUL of news outlets to go to instead of the THOUSANDS of individual city and local papers – they reach everyone easily, and ADs become too expensive for the little guy. BUT we NEED those local voices. It would be NICE if advertisers would support them all. It would be nice if they could survive. BUT THEY AREN’T. The newspapers ARE going broke. And unless I am missing something, they are the only non-sound-byte source of news left in this country – unless you think all we need are a bunch of hearsay bloggers.

Steven (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, because the internet has destroyed the ability for locals to communicate with the outside world. The costs of producing content clearly shut all but the most wealthy out of the conversation.

Not to mention how much more reliable hearsay reporters are to hearsay bloggers. If only there were some way the people actually involved could produce content.

I suppose we’ll just have to push on with what we have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, the newspapers are going broke.
Can’t be helped, but that did start before the internet got popular, you do realise that right?

24 hour news on radio and television stuck the knife in.
The fact that people will now read online rather than buy physical papers will finish the job, but none of that explains why the newspapers cannot make that jump to the internet, all it really has done is remove rather large costs from their budgets with expensive printing and distribution of physical items now being replaced with very cheap servers and bandwidth.

tuna says:

Re: Re:

Just because you put up a paywall it doesn’t mean you’re going to get paid.

History has shown that paywalls drive away readers, lower ad revenues and alienate the employees who create the content.

The only way this can work is if everyone in the world pulls their content off the internat or they all decide to put up paywalls.

Paul (profile) says:

Re: in a world where we get everything for free ...

You know, there are so many things we get for free. Sort of. You do not pay for the air you breath. You don’t pay for conversations you have with the person you stand next to in a supermarket. You don’t have to pay for the design and development of the language you use (though you might have to pay someone to teach you its finer points). You don’t have to pay for the thousands of years of development that went into the invention of the technologies you use. You don’t pay for the bacteria you have to have in your gut and on your skin for you to live.

I know much of the music that is central to our culture. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. Music ranging from the Rock, to the Hymns I learned in Church, to camp songs, to Country music, to Classical music. I paid for very little of it in cash (I remember buying only three albums growing up, though I might have bought twice that).

You see, I listened to the Radio, but just wasn’t that interested in Music. I don’t buy music today either, as I’d rather listen to various other sorts of programs. Thank goodness for podcasts! I love that stuff!

I have software I wrote that I open source. Why? Because I can control that software even if I have to take someone’s paycheck to work. In the past, I had to rewrite this software several times, as I did the work for other companies and couldn’t take my software with me. But now that it is open source, I have been able to take my software to two different jobs, and I still can leverage it to make money.

Do I give my software away for free? Yes. But I charge to consult and help people use that software.

We do have to pay for lots of stuff. But it is stupid to assume there isn’t any mix of free and pay. I charge for my consulting, but I give the software itself away for free. In some sense this really hurts companies like IBM or Oracle that might have similar software. They charge more because they are IBM and Oracle and have to support the overhead of big, public companies. I don’t care if I undercut them by providing software for free that in many respects is easier to use then their products. I only need to support myself.

The same happens with music. Do singers and song writers need to support the Labels with their huge corporate overhead and obligations to their investors? No. they can charge less and make more. And their product is just as good as that of the record labels (not a high bar there).

Increasingly this will happen with movies. It is happening with publishing. It is happening with software.

When more product is produced and made available, then all of us get more stuff for less money. We should only pay people that are adding value. Mike is right about this.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Couple things.

1. The 2 SF papers (The Chronicle & The Examiner) were hammered by the advent of the internet (see: Craigs List) and hampered by their JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) and their ownership troubles. The Examiner was sold to a very politically connected family who proceeded to make it a thin, shrill tabloid. The Chron eviscerated its news department in favor of flabby Life features. It wasn’t a world-class paper beforehand, but it was a close 2nd to the formerly excellent San Jose Mercury News.

I don’t think a paywall in 1998 would’ve saved either paper. Forcing the JOA to be split and putting the resources into one or the other paper would’ve.

2. I love the NY Times. I’ve been a subscriber for many years. They are a primary source for news (the Chron often takes many of their articles for their denuded news sections). As such, the Times is vital for in-depth extended reporting.

Do they get it “right” all of the time? Of course not. Doesn’t change the fact that without them, we will be a lot more information-poor.

3. The Mike-bashing is boring and, as someone else pointed out, inaccurate. THIS particular revenue-stream is not well-thought out, not ALL revenue-streams.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The world will not become ‘more information-poor’ — this is where you are getting out of your depth.

The world, our culture, routes around impediments to information distribution. The NY Times has hitherto been an asset to information distribution; this is about to change.

When that happens, the information will find another way to surface. It is likely this will be something more open and communally driven than the NY Times ever could be; thus it’s actually a net boon to the world for them to so effectively render themselves irrelevant.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Call me crazy (“You’re crazy!”), but like the music industry, news uses aggregators/filters. The filters all used to be physical papers, but now there’s all kinds of media outlets on-screen and on-line too. That’s fine by me.

It’s a problem of trust- while I always read between the lines of ANY news source- I do trust that the NY Times journalistic standards are much higher than that of the Daily Mirror or the Weekly World News (Batboy excepted, of course). They make mistakes, but they’re also much more open about them when they happen (see the on-going Public Editor columns) than most other “reputable” news sources. Blogs & partisan sites rarely reach an equal level of self-examination & self-correction.

I’m sure the information will probably “surface,” but will it be noticed in the same way as the gov’t wiretapping scandal was in the US a few years ago if it’s on some tiny-yet-accurate blog? Even if it’s picked up and repeated by a high-traffic aggregator like Drudge Report or Huffington Post?

Those sites are rightfully seen as obviously partisan. The NY Times DEFINITELY has its own leanings, but its newsgathering is much less shaded by its editorial page. For instance, would you trust either of those aggregation sites to present a reasonably even-handed report of a partisan issue? No, and why should they?

John Doe says:

The problem with paywalls, micropayments, etc

The biggest problem with paywalls, micropayments or any other payment system is there is just too much content out there competing for attention. There is no way to pay for it all. The mental transaction cost of deciding what I want to pay for is too much. Also, if I am clicking hither and yond all month and then get hit with a macro bill for all the micro payments, I will put a halt to it for good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The problem with paywalls, micropayments, etc

I’ve never been able to properly verbalize why micro payments have been (and always will be) “about to become ubiquitous” but never actually get there — the socioeconomic equivalent of “three to five years” in the tech market.

This is a wonderfully succinct and accurate description of the fundamental problem — money is limited; people’s tolerance for spending money is limited; people’s willingness to evaluate what they wish to pay and not pay for is limited.

The “micro payment dream” is that if everyone can easily enough charge little enough for their own little slice of the interwebs that everyone will somehow magically be able to make oodles and oodles of money — without anyone ever actually having to *pay* oodles and oodles of money… but that’s basically forgetting that ‘zillions’ times ‘itsy-bitsy’ still equals ‘very large’.

It’s like they’re imagining the profit aspect as if everyone is using micro payments, but the cost aspect as if only they (or any given single party) was using it — it’s a fundamental contradiction caused by careless thinking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The problem with paywalls, micropayments, etc

Actually, I am kinda addicted to micropayments now. I have a skee-ball game on the iPhone, which was cheap (1.99? 2.99?)…anyway…you can earn tickets to redeem for prizes….either different color balls, backgrounds and ‘collectables’.

You can also purchase a pack of tickets for 99 cents. Since I find myself always wanting to change the background and the balls, I end up caving and buying the pack.

I feel kinda dumb, cause I think I have now spent $12 on this iPhone game….

Farmville micropayments nabbed me too for a while.

Hence why I just stick with WoW now….(but their pet achievements….grrrrr….gotta have em all!)

BUT….In defense of micropayments, I would rather pay in small amounts like that…than say….$50 at one movie…I may spend that same $50 this month, but I get a much greater value for my money.

anonymous says:

@sta303: Actually no Mike just believes in value based buisness models, where value is given. He’s given a clear logical explanation here on the flaws in this particular buisness model. That companies continue to try and gouge consumers blind, and then lead them by the hand to steal what’s left in their pockets, and do so successfully, proves nothing more than the evil that is greed. STUFF IT.

sehlat (profile) says:

Price vs. Value

What the Times is up against is the age-old confusion of price (what it costs) versus value (what it’s worth to somebody). The former is generally what some party demands for access/use/ownership, and the latter is what other parties are willing to pay for it.

The latter is the problem, since it’s different for each and every person, and even for them, it varies from moment to moment and is powerfully influenced by circumstance.

To give an example of this, consider a bottle of water. For us, the average price is about $1. Anybody remember the old Twilight Zone episode where two men were stranded in a desert and carrying bars of gold. One of the men had a full canteen. He demanded a bar for (you ready for this) one drink from his canteen. And got it.

End of episode: the man with the canteen runs out of water, reaches a road, but he’s dying of thirst, and offers his gold to a passing driver before he dies. The driver comments “He offered me gold. Seems to think it was worth something.” The driver’s companion asks “Isn’t it?” Reply: “Not since they figured out how to synthesize it.”

The people running the NYT clearly place a high value on their content. Their problem is, they’re pricing it accordingly and overlooking the fact that, while “their” content is their rice bowl, it’s not anybody else‘s.

Anonymous Coward says:

When i got to a website that i might be curious about a topic i read on here or digg or anywhere…if the first thing i see is to signup i simply close and move on. If its important enough ill find information somewhere else.

This is just a case of ego, NY times believes they are so much Superior then other news forms that they believe people should pay, i think they will find there ego is bigger then there website.

crowdedfalafel (profile) says:

clueless NYT and what's this about "free"?

Nothing marks the Times as old media so much as this foolishness. The only news here is how completely they fail to understand the economics of the time and place they are unhappily in.

I just want to note that folks who are being drained by Comcast or Verizon do not quite get why everyone (at least on the “content” side) keeps saying all that stuff out there is “free.” It is not free, it is the stuff for which we use the pipes. We do not pay one charge for pipes that have nothing in them, and another, separate charge for the stuff in them distinct from the pipes. Yet this is the senseless model that currently holds sway. Only when the fees we pay are split – between pipes and content – in an equitable way will content providers get paid, and pipe providers will get the upside of the hand of justice. Right not, they sit back and collect, while content providers are doing the heavy lifting. This model is not viable, no matter how “real” it seems today.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me start by saying I am not a fan of paywalls.

Next like a another reader comment, I’m not local to New York. Beyond a few interesting items there is nothing of value to me there.

I run into the paywall from time to time where some idiot has linked to the news site. I immediately close the page. They need to know nothing about me. They are not getting any info beyond what my browser in private mode will give them. Even some of that is blocked or filtered so that mainly the basics are all they will see.

I had already by accident discovered coming through a web link from other sites sometimes worked. Reason is I searched for the title of the article and often as not it’s somewhere else on the net besides behind the firewall.

Lastly I hate an ad. I won’t by choice view them. They are another pest industry akin to spam. Couple of years ago, ARSTechica decided surfers were stealing their income by not viewing ads. I dropped going to their site for several years. When I came back to check a link out, there was no mention, not so much as a peep about stealing their income. I gather the loss of viewership made more of an impact on their advertisement values than did bitching about not viewing them.

Reddit had another little problem with infected iFrames in ads serving out malware. So it goes beyond just hating ads and into security reasons as well. Since iFrames were blocked here I received no malware. But the notion of not viewing ads was reinforced as the correct decision and I won’t alter that.

So I won’t pay for a walled garden when I can get it elsewhere for free. It has no specific value it really adds if it free so an entry fee into a site that isn’t very useful over the long haul doesn’t make sense. It’s a fail all the way around.

Good luck over making a buck on a poor delivery method.

Irony says:

Is it just me, or do others see the irony of using the comments section of a free article on a freely available website to talk about the benefits and necessities of a paywall?

I don’t live in NY and don’t follow the Times though I might have grazed past an article once in a while so I really didn’t care what they did, but now I’m curious. I want to see what technology they are going to use to count the number of visits per visitor. Is it cached in the browser, is it tracked by IP… how will they get around the problem of people just hitting the cache link on Google instead of going to the article on their site? So I guess Mike I’ve found the benefit of a paywall, it causes sites like yours to talk about it and drives the curious like me to investigate, going to their site, which I otherwise probably wouldn’t have done…

Is it true what they say about celebrities, that all publicity is good publicity? Perhaps for the short term the same could be true for news sites?

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

NY Times- what's a better solution?

As I wrote above, the NY Times is a primary news source. Personally, I’m a subscriber. Losing it would be a huge blow to information gathering and news reporting.

The number of excellent internet-based journalism projects like http://www.newsdesk.org (disclosure: I’m on the board of the 501(c)3 that oversees Newsdesk) are too few and way too underfunded to even begin to replicate the Old Grey Lady’s breadth and depth of reporting.

I don’t like the paywall, and I better get free access as a subscriber. BUT… linking to NY Times articles is a great way to inform on-line discussions about current events. Losing that or relying on 3rd party sites is a crap way to go.

Did they assume that having a paywall sans ads wasn’t enough of a draw? Personally, I don’t care about ads, so I wouldn’t pay, but others here clearly would.

What method of monetizing the site would be acceptable? Is there any acceptable method? Does this even “need” to happen?

AllisonK (profile) says:

Judging by the fact that as of this morning it appeared that every link from their homepage was broken (wouldn’t load in Chrome), the technology behind this should run seamlessly. I take it that is one of the remaining 200 glitches. I’ll be interested to see if they have trouble with shifting customer expectations for reliability – if I’m paying for something that doesn’t work, I’m mad.

Brendan (profile) says:

Block JavaScript - No problem

1. Use Firefox
2. Install NoScript
3. Block NYtimes.com
4. Browse nytimes.com to your hearts content

I wasn’t hitting the paywall I was told to expect in Canada, so I tested the waters by enabling JavaScript. Voila, I get a pop-over JS things after 20 articles. It wants to pay or log in or something.

Disable JavaScript again: bye-bye pop-over. Continue browsing.

Enjoy, until they block this with some other countermeasure that will in turn be circumventing in this un-winnable (by NYtimes) arms race.

Mike (profile) says:

Stopped looking back when Paywall was announced

So I pretty much stopped browsing the NY Times stories and columnists back when they announced they were planning a paywall.

Which I feel sort of sad about since I really did enjoy several of the NY Times columnists.

And of course this means that I no longer email friends and family to recommend that they read articles on the NY Times.

Who knows, maybe they’ll get sane in a year or two.

Darkbee (user link) says:

Sad and Amusing at the Same Time

Great read! Very funny! Had me laughing all the way through; and the article was pretty good too.

If the NY Times wants to sell ice to Eskimos then let them go ahead, I don’t care, I get my ice from the ice-maker built into my refrigerator, which I pay for through electricity use and I’m happy to pay for.

As long as the NY Times doesn’t come bitching to me that they’re going out of business because those idiot Eskimos refuse to buy ice. If, on the other hand the Eskimos do buy ice then more power to NY Times.

Lisa says:

Not only that, it does not include subscribers to e-reader versions of the Times. Which means if I had been dumb enough to pay $28/month for the Times on my Kindle (which I wasn’t) – I would STILL have to pay for online access. This is even more amazing as the Kindle version does not include all the print articles, pictures, crosswords, etc.

MAC says:

Many of you are dismissing the fact that the NYT is hands down the most respected news organization in the country, and one of the most respected in the world. It is often referred to as the countries “newspaper of record”. If you can’t tell the difference between it’s content and that of something like USA Today or a one-man blog, than I politely suggest that you are probably too immature to actually read it. My hope for all of us is that the company stays in business long enough for all you chuckleheads to grow up. Just because you’ve been getting free information on the internet, doesn’t mean that you have the “right” to get free information on the internet. My guess (and my hope) is that this brave move by the Times will lead to other major papers following suit.

In it’s simplest terms, don’t confuse freedom of content with freedom of speech (exemplified by freedom of the press). The later is one of the founding principles of this country, and essential to the survival of any democracy. The former is what a 20 year old who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is whines when his Daddy takes his Gameboy away.

The New York Times is one of the few bright lights left in a journalism industry whose integrity and reach are fading before our eyes. It scares the living crap out of me. Some aspects of their paywall may be poorly thought out – and I hope they are modified. That doesn’t change the fact that it is in ALL of our best interests for them to succeed.

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