How Cute: NY Times, WaPo & Gannett Build Their Own Walled Garden Most People Will Ignore

from the tend-away dept

This is just a bit bizarre. As the NY Times and others keep moving towards a paywall, it and the Washington Post and Gannett have apparently funded a bizarrely pointless operation called OnGo, which appears to be an excessively limited, high priced, walled garden aggregator. For a mere $7 per month, you can get access to content from those three companies along with a few other big newspapers. Of course, there are limits. You only get the top 20 stories from the NY Times, for example.

Or, you know, you could just use an RSS reader. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. And not pay the monthly fee.

I'm reading through the various details and stories on this project, and the one question I keep asking which isn't answered anywhere is what is the additional value this brings to the table. When the very best that the operation's boss man can do to explain his value proposition is to say "this is another option," you're in trouble. This isn't providing any more value for the (much higher) price. It seems to be targeted at fools, which is no way to build a business these days.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Pete Austin, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 2:16am

    It's Sympathetic Magic

    ... or a cargo cult, if you prefer.

    If old media keeps imitating the superficial appearance of successful new media services, then eventually they will become just as successful. They just have to wish hard enough.

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

  2. identicon
    Yogi, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 2:59am


    Life in the 21st century must be a nightmare for these people - it's so not 1970s. Watching them run these organizations in the current technological environment is like watching a dinosaur try to eat its prey with a fork and knife - it just ain't gonna happen, and the result is ugly as heck...

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

  3. icon
    ethorad (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    "It seems to be targeted at fools"

    Otherwise known as the mass market :)

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

  4. icon
    Benny6Toes (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Additional value

    The supposed additional value is that it will be ad-free and laid out in a "useful" format closer to a traditional paper layout. so that means multiple columns and, according to Ongo, will require no, or at least less scrolling. They think that hasn't been done before. Somebody should probably tell them about Huffingtonpost and Dailly Caller (among others).

    Perhaps "Nogo" would be a better name for the new site/company...

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

  5. identicon
    Michael, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 6:59am


    "It seems to be targeted at fools, which is no way to build a business these days"

    Call me a pessimist, but I don't actually think we are running low on fools these days, so perhaps making a business based on hole-filled paywalls and Nigerian check scams is the way to go.

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

  6. icon
    chamadatoo (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 7:21am

    Funny, I would go for an aggregator - $7 a month would be fine, if:
    1) I could have the headlines from all the major sections of the newspaper - don't need every last article but the top 10 in each of the main categories
    2) I could have quick and easy offline access to ALL of this content.
    3) The selection of newspapers was wide enough to matter.

    Anyone remember AvantGo - back when the Palm Pilot was king? It was PERFECT and it was free. They had a HUGE selection and very quick offline sync so you could read your morning headlines from 6 international newspapers on the subway on the way to work.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Top 20 stories? WHAT?!!!

    Up 4 places this week to number 7 it's Wikileaks, still in the top ten for the third week running... will they make it to number 1??!! Here, now, live on Top 20 Stories, please, a big hand for Wikileaks performing their new story "Lying Government Bastards!"

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

  8. icon
    timlash (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Fools...

    How else would you account for the success of:

    HeadOn, Airborne, rubber magic balance bracelets, copper arthritis bracelets, magnet healing therapies...

    Catering to fools can be highly lucrative.

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

  9. identicon
    anothermike, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 2:18pm


    When you're marketing to the lowest common denominator, you have to be prepared for the occasional division by zero.

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

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