Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Times De-Select

In one of my snarkiest editorials ever, I chastised The New York Times for putting material (mostly their prize columnists) that they had been offering free to online readers (who have to register and are bombarded with advertisements, mind you) behind a pay-to-read section of their site that they called "Times Select." Here's the gist of what I wrote, in the form of a letter to the editor:
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.
Well, they did let me (us) know. It's been scrapped. And their reasoning?
Since we launched TimesSelect in 2005, the online landscape has altered significantly. Readers increasingly find news through search, as well as through social networks, blogs and other online sources. In light of this shift, we believe offering unfettered access to New York Times reporting and analysis best serves the interest of our readers, our brand and the long-term vitality of our journalism. We encourage everyone to read our news and opinion – as well as share it, link to it and comment on it., what did I tell you???? It was obvious back in 2005 when you first launched this nonsense. I'll point out as well that folks who did subscribe for it will get a prorated refund, which is good of the paper.

Still, let me take advantage of this moment of triumphant told-you-so-ism to suggest you replace David Brooks with a conservative columnist who'll do more research for his pieces than reading Rove's latest talking points. Seriously. He's an embarrassment.

We now return to our regularly scheduled bickering about art....

Labels: Blogs, traditional media


Anonymous ml said...

Here here. David Brooks is a joke. He and Chris Matthews should start a dog and pony show for children.

9/19/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one Edward. I buy the Times daily on the newsstand because I travel alot and so I pay more than the regular subscription buyer. Since I have no way of proving it the NY Times wanted me to pay a premium for their "Select".

Tear that wall down Mr. Sulzberger! So glad he finally listened, took him long enough.

9/19/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Ms Dowd rocked this morning.

9/19/2007 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous cjagers said...


I can't understand why organizations are so slow to understand this online landscape which already surrounds us.

9/19/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I can't understand why organizations are so slow to understand this online landscape which already surrounds us.

Coming up with a viable revenue model has been a bear.

9/19/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

...and a complete and utter lack of imagination and intelligence has led to the advertising model being replicated on the Web. The results are pretty lousy. Which is to say content providers (like me, or Ed, or millions of other Web authors) aren't getting paid. Although it might be a surprise to the copyright Nazis out there that this lack of funding hasn't stopped the creation. (Disney would have you believe that if megacorporations can't extend their intellectual property ownership for another hundred years, human creativity will dry up and blow away due to lack of funding.)

Well do I recall the halcyon days when people were proposing schemes like micropayments. Scott McCloud suggested that if you wrote a limerick a day and got people to subscribe to it for pennies a month, you could put "limerick writer" in the space for "profession" on your tax forms. Let's all pause a moment while we have a good laugh.

The big problem with advertising on the Web -- advertising has a lot of problems in general, but let's just talk about online -- is you can actually determine in great detail how well the ad campaign you're paying for is doing. And the answer is: really, really poorly. Magazine, TV, and radio advertising is smoke and mirrors; the Web blows away the smoke and shatters the mirrors. Oops! Turns out it was Three Card Monte the whole time!

I remember sitting down with the president or CEO or whatever -- the Grand Poobah -- of Elsevier Science back when I worked there. I told him the future was in putting all their science journal on the Internet for free. He laughed at me. He said all the company owned was that content and if they gave it away, there'd be no company.

He was probably right. Elsevier's still in business; I'm not.

Anyway, you can't blame the New York Times for trying. I guess now they'll just shift over to More Ads! More of the Time!

9/19/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Chris, put Google Ads on your blog (or find another ad company that isn't so finicky about Clean Wholesome Content, hmph.) It only took me two and a half years to earn my first $100 check from Google. Then, of course, they cut me off.

The fact that most art magazines do not have their content available for free online has resulted in the fact that now, when anyone types the name of an artist whom I have written about (on my 27-hit-per-day blog) into Google, my piece is among the first three hits. Ha! Vengeance and the judgment of posterity is MINE!!!!!!!

9/19/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

A) I thought I made it clear what I think about the advertising model.

B) I can't get in to Google Ads because apparently I applied for them years ago (for Apple Corps) and was rejected and now they don't like me.

C) I'm not a girl so I can't join your bandwagon, the BlogHer thing you're doing.

9/20/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Does anyone have a link to Karl Rove's Talking Points?

9/20/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

You know, this kind of relates to a previous thread about the artist who reckoned art was the only reality - the only real object-ivity.

As I'm sitting here I'm not an 'artist' or a 'copy-editor' (the day job) or a 'Pakeha' or any of those bad faith roles Sartre warned us about. I'm a sack of water and chemicals sitting in front of a plastic and metal thing and smoking the dried leaves of the tobacco plant.

Of course that sack of water and chemicals includes the electrochemical network that is my brain, the most complex thing in the known universe. There's about the same amount of neurons in there as there are stars in the Milky Way, but that's not what counts. What counts is the amount of connections between them, and there's more of them than there are atoms in the entire universe.

The mental constructs - ideas, concepts, representations, call them what you will - produced by this activity are just as real as tables and chairs.

This is where art comes in. Art allows the free play of associations. We get to exercise our neural network to the full. Ideas are our stock in trade.

So, in times like this, when corrupt gangsters are redefining concepts such as 'freedom' and 'liberty' to suit their own ends and the journalists and public intellectuals aren't up to the task, it's down to art to tell it like it is - provide some much needed objectivity.

9/21/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Oops, wrong thread! Sorry.

This is what I get for blithering on a Friday night.

9/21/2007 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Have you checked those dried leaves? Maybe they're not just from the tobacco plant.

9/21/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger aurix said...

my subscription from last year ended the day they stopped charging. so, no, i'm not getting any money back... :-(

9/21/2007 01:09:00 PM  

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