Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Internet 2.0 - NY Times 0

NY Times Paywall Comes Down

The New York Times paywall will come down for almost all of its website effective midnight Tuesday night.

In a triumph of the open nature of the internet -- that anyone with half a brain could see coming two years ago to the day -- the NY Times Company announced Tuesday that the it was canceling its two-year old Times Select program (refunding customers on a pro-rata basis) and making its site available to the public. Furthermore, The Times is making its archives available as follows: from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free.

The Times Select program ran for two years to the day amid wide-spread complaints that it cut The Times' best columnists off from the rest of their readers. Among those complaining were many of the The Times' columnists. The columns ended up being widely circulated and reprinted anyway, through blogs, emails, and newsletters.

NY Times

The Times said the project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers — out of 787,000 over all — and generating about $10 million a year in revenue.

“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site, NYTimes.com.

What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.

The Times’s site has about 13 million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, far more than any other newspaper site. Ms. Schiller would not say how much increased Web traffic the paper expects by eliminating the charges, or how much additional ad revenue the move was expected to generate.

Experts say that opinion columns are unlikely to generate much ad revenue, but that they can drive a lot of reader traffic to other, more lucrative parts of The Times site, like topic pages devoted to health and technology.

The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Company, is the only major newspaper in the country to charge for access to most of its Web site, which it began doing in 1996. The Journal has nearly one million paying online readers, generating about $65 million in revenue.

Dow Jones and the company that is about to take it over, the News Corporation, are discussing whether to continue that practice, according to people briefed on those talks. Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman, has talked of the possibility of making access to The Journal free online.

The Los Angeles Times tried that model in 2005, charging for access to its arts section, but quickly dropped it after experiencing a sharp decline in Web traffic.
Charging for online news is stupid. News is a commodity. From Google News to Huffington Post, from thousands to tens of thousands of local newspapers around the globe to literally almost five million blogs and growing, the world is abuzz with what's going on. The problem isn't getting the news -- it's filtering it.

What people need are great editors, people they trust to reach into the data-flow and pull out that which matters. No one can listen to everything, and no one person's taste matches up with everyone elses.

The New York Times simply failed to understand that no one pays to get more crap in their inbox -- even really good crap by terrific writers. It's a crap mountain out there and I ain't paying to add more shit to the pile I already don't have time to read. If some article is so goddamn good (that my Mom convinces me) I just have to dig down through the dung to read, well, she can either cut and paste me the whole thing herself, or point me to a site carrying the article regardless of The Times' stupid policies.

In other words, all Times Select did was piss people off, drive potential customers away, and lose them advertising dollars. Smooth moves ex lax.

Gilly nailed your ass there Pinch a year ago.
Steve Gilliard

It's not just us bloggers, most Americans don't trust the media, left or right, especially the Washington media, who is more concerned with Beltway antics than the news. If Judy Miller was covering Baltimore City Hall, she would have been fired years ago. But people kept defending her when she was compromised

I wouldn't worry about Atrios breaking stories, he's an economist, not a journalist. What I would worry about is the fact that demographics are moving the most desireable readers to the Internet and their opinions are more important than yours.
Want to build a business on the internet?

Give away your best stuff.

You heard me. Take your best stuff. Now give it away.

Know what will happen? The same shit's been happening since the dawn of the net.
Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.

Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Giving your best stuff away, your real problem will be something you've never dreamed of -- which is why real hackers today get great jobs at Google, not at Microsoft -- you poor deluded war-pushing hack.

Your sin isn't even sitting in a grand office envying your father, sucking up to the Bush administration and aiding and abetting the world into one, two, ah-ah, can you count, maybe three wars. Your sin is letting the world pass the Gray Lady by on your watch while allowing print Journalism to take a fucking dive... What? Did you think you had a freaking monopoly on news?

Journalism ethics 101 we won't cover today. If you haven't learned them yet (you haven't), well, tough. Asshole.

But anyone running business on what is now called the internet since the mid 80s (*raises both hands and feet -- promptly falls over*) knows how you build a business here on the Al Gore's internets is you take your best stuff and you give it away.

If your best stuff is any good, people will come. Leading to why Google rules and Microsoft is trying to come up with a world-changing hit before its Office & Desktop monopolies vanish into Web 2.0 & the rapidly coming yeah its actually already here Web 3.0, where who the hell needs a freaking operating system anyway? Or Microsoft Office? Or a desktop/laptop computer?

What Google knows is, if you've got people coming to get your free stuff, you can monetize the traffic.

Wha. Huh. Wazyu?

The more people, the more ways to slice and dice them into traffic streams, each stream worth something. This stream gets sold books on military history, this one rice cookers, this one pay-to-click ads for Battlestar Galactica, that one political advertising for John Edwards, and over there AT&T long distance service along with direct mail for Porsche automobiles. While those folks get phone calls asking about their portfolios. And everyone has the choice of making donations, participating in subscription drives, buying ad-free versions of the product, and so on.

The more people that come, the more ways to sell and there's literally no limit. It all starts with giving away your best stuff for free and building a demand for your stuff. Stuff (your brand identity) = demand. Demand = people. People = opportunity to monetize. And monetizing is the golden goose, making offers very directed to unique people and groups of people.

Pinch, being of my Dad's era, just doesn't get the internet. He utterly missed how this is done. The people he put in charge of bringing The Times online? Either they didn't get it or Pinch simply wasn't willing to listen when they told him he should just give his shit away without any return, yo. "That simply isn't how we do things here. It isn't how we play ball. It's not how we play cricket." He insisted they find a profit center which he, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., could freaking understand, God Dammit. Or go to work with those ruffians from The Post.

So they gave him a profit center. Heh.

Yo slick. You fucked up. But if you pull your head out of your ass, you might still pull this off. This horseshit about keeping some of your archives from 1923-1986 still on a pay-as-you-go basis ain't gonna fly though. What part of GIVE YOUR STUFF AWAY do you not understand?

Or do we just have to wait for Prince to take over when you die?

I mean, come on Pinch, why the hell would you invite us in and then try and hold back, you prick-teaser you. Trying to be a good boy for mommy and daddy and the Church, not giving it up too soon? Listen Pinch, you invited us in. But now here we are, all hot and bothered and ready for action. We've got our hand down your pants and oooooh, you've got such a big one baby! Stop wiggling around and let us take you all the way. Open your archives to us sugar -- no one likes a prick tease.

Know what happens when you monetize all those beautiful people coming in because you just TRUST the goddamn system like everyone else does, and give away ALL your best stuff?
Is this heaven?

It's Iowa.

Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.

John starts to walk away.

Is there a heaven?

Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true.

Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch.

Maybe this is heaven.