Saturday, September 17, 2005

To the Old Gray Whore: Anti-MSM Open Thread

To the Editors of The New York Times,

With all due respect to the fact that yours is a business and like all businesses must make money, the "Times Select" program strikes me as about as classy a move on your part as the two-bit local thug who offers crack for free to build up his client base and then starts gouging his dupes once they're hooked.

I mention this in particular because it's clear, even without having access to your page view statistics (needing only your "Most E-mailed" list), that you're "Selecting" to charge for the items your online readers most value. You already charge for archived articles, as well, so pretending that you're offering added value with this program is embarrassingly disingenuous of you. Yes, you're going back further...wahoo...but you could still earn money off that without charging for the columns.

It's quite a gamble you're taking here actually. Surely you realize the rise in popularity of your columnists over the past 4 years is due in large part to how easily bloggers can cite them while they're free. Take away that option, and the number of times they're referenced in the blogosphere is most certainly going to plummet.

I, for example, will not direct readers from any of my blogs to a site they'll have to pay to read.

The irony here is that I buy your paper, at full price, from my local vendor every day. I often turn to the editorial pages first, read all the columns, and often they become a source for my blog posts.

Because, again, I won't direct my readers to a site they'll be charged to read, though, you've just convinced me to start picking up the Washington Post each morning instead.

Good luck with your new program. Do let me know when it's been scrapped.

Sincerely,

Edward Winkleman
http://obsidianwings.blogs.com
http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com
http://liberalstreetfighter.com/ee/index.php

6 Comments:

Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Should be a simple code for paper-version buyers to get full access and link for free. I never buy paper news anymore, so I'd be willing to pay $10 a month, maybe more, for NYT.

9/17/2005 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I think they are offering something like that Bill

In all fairness, the Times can charge what they want...they offer a quality product.

I guess what I resent though, is that they chose the one feature they knew was the most popular to start charging for. They could have charged for anything, but they used their statistics to calculate what folks would be most willing to pay for, based on usage, and are going to charge for that. It's obnoxious.

9/17/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous jen d said...

I'm confused. Unless I'm reading wrong, the times won't be charging $ to read the editorial columns. Anyone can still read them w/o joining times-select. They're charging for additional "web-only extras". Right?

or, is your point that this is just the beginning & they will eventually be charging to read the op/ed columns?

9/18/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The Times will be charging for the columns of their pundits (Dowd, Friedman, Krugman, etc.).

These just happen to be the most popular items their online readers email to their friends.

My problem with this approach is the way it's being sold. The article explaining Times Select is too disingenuous for a credible newspaper. It's pretending that they're offering added value, when all their offering is added costs.

I see this sort of spin in marketing meetings all the time, and whereas I figure it's how business is done for your average "product," with a newspaper the primary product is credibility...for me, this undermines the Times' credibility.

9/18/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HATE TIMES SELECT. HATE IT.

9/19/2005 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

Just woke up today and went to read the morning news. Turns out the op-ed columnists are all off limits now even on the day that their pieces are published.

Maybe as a business this is a smart move, but this will inevitably reduce the reach of these writers' voices. Ms. Dowd and Mr. Krugman should complain to their bosses. No more, "Hey, did you read that Bob Herbert editorial in the times today?" "No, but I'll check it out during lunch." Now the response will be something like, "Nope. Don't have Times Select."

Grrr. Even salon lets you in free if you watch an ad.

9/19/2005 09:32:00 AM  

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