Comments on: The revenue-neutral NYT paywall A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: hbobrien Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:27:04 +0000 “There is a great value to quality journalism, and clearly history has proven people will pay for it.”

The evidence history provides is that advertisers will pay for access to the audiences that assign value to journalism. There is, to my knowledge, no evidence in history whatsoever that the audience itself will foot the bill.

The problem is, the audience’s aversion to advertising has now outpaced their appetite for journalism. The result is the continuing death-spiral of advertising, taking journalism with it as collateral damage. (It doesn’t help that the internet provides the metrics that the degree advertising increases sales is within the margin of error, so it’s become quite difficult to justify ad buys to the shareholders.)

If you haven’t read Bob Garfield’s “Chaos Scenario” piece in Advertising Age, you might want to consider it. It also is from 2005, and it has been eerily prescient.

By: hbobrien Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:19:31 +0000 “I find it hard to believe that everyone’s criticism of the NYT is driven by their concern that the new paywall fees will result in the NYT missing out on the chance of discovering a way to make “a very large amount of money.””

Well, that’s the danger of using a universal term like, “everybody.” Because you’re wrong, at least in the case of this particular “everybody.”.

As I wrote in 2005 about the equally short-sighted TimesSelect program:

“This is a colossally stupid business move, and it appears the Times knows it. Because I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t go and implement it today if they had any confidence at all. Running it as a trial balloon until September shows how uncertain they are. (2010 note: TimesSelect was announced in May of 2005, but wasn’t implemented until September. This time they’re taking a full year to implement their plans, which implies they’re even more internally dubious about their own plans.)

(W)hat will the end result for the Times be? Marginally more bucks from a devoted few, while the vast bulk of their readers stop visiting them. Which doesn’t just cut their revenue stream from subscriptions, but will cut their current banner ad revenues. It will also make their Op-Ed writers less relevant, by taking away some of the bully-ness of their pulpit.

Fewer readers, less revenues, less prestige. Not often one sees a trifecta like that.”

Everyone makes mistakes. Making the same mistake repeatedly, in the face of an institution’s own bad experience, is the definition of stupidity. The Times will almost certainly lose money on this plan again. And as Felix writes, they know it.

This is as clear an example of how “enlightened self-interest” is a rara avis in the US business world as one can find.

By: stevenstevo Sat, 30 Jan 2010 07:53:16 +0000 “What’s sad here, of course, is that the NYT has given up its dream of winning the other lottery: becoming such a popular and high-value global news source that it will be able to make a very large amount of money from a free website.”

Huh? Surely you jest.

What is “sad” is that the selfish sense of entitlement everyone know has that they deserve everything for free that they can access via the internet. And call me cynical, but I find it hard to believe that everyone’s criticism of the NYT is driven by their concern that the new paywall fees will result in the NYT missing out on the chance of discovering a way to make “a very large amount of money.”

What is “sad” is that the sense of entitlement that we deserve everything for free will cause many people to curse the and not pay for it. The problem is the benefits of reading such quality journalism are intangible, and most will fail to realize when it’s gone. The thousands alternative free websites purporting to report the news will deceive those into believing these are acceptable alternative substitutes. This is what’s sad: when the majority in this country settle for mediocre reporting a substitute for quality journalism with the self-righteous justification that they should not pay for news on the internet because all things on the internet should be free.

Instead of reading a great 5-page write-up on discussing the significance of the late J.D. Salinger, people will settle for a boring 30-page blip about his death (“J.D. Salinger was reported to have died in his home today at 12:35 central standard time. As the author of blah, Salinger was most famous for blah. Blah. Blah.) Instead of reading an analysis by a nobel prize winning economist on the recent proposed banking regulations on, people will settle for reading a three sentence summary of the story on a finance blog run by a former broker in the mortgage banking industry.

There is a great value to quality journalism, and clearly history has proven people will pay for it. The problem is the sense of entitlement everyone now has that makes them think they now deserve the free because the news can be read on the internet. This attitude is only getting worse: instead of realizing the utter lack any sort of reasonable basis to justify one’s right to free online news, most delude themselves into ignoring this. These result of course is ignorance (or more ignorance), which of course then progresses into sheer delusion, inventing odd notions of absurd logic in order to justify their self-righteousness–claiming that intellectual property rights are invalid, often deeming it their “Constitutional right” to get whatever they want on the internet for free and criticizing any attempt by an evil corporation to take away theirs which should be free. The delusion abounds, driven always by this selfish entitlement, even when it is illegal to do so, and even when it will inevitably evaporate the very industries that provide the music, news, etc. that they want to have.

By: paycheckr Fri, 29 Jan 2010 16:49:14 +0000 Offering users “many ways to pay” will ease the transition. See the model at

By: ian_db Fri, 29 Jan 2010 13:59:08 +0000 I can’t comment on the CAPM post or find your email, so I’m commenting here. The reason the CAPM says there’s a linear risk-return relationship is because that’s what you get if all investors are mean-variance optimizers. You can say this silly, but it’s not *completely* arbitrary. The CAPM is more than a simple linear regression.

By: JanHennop Fri, 29 Jan 2010 12:53:10 +0000 Excellent points Felix. We are planning to implement our paywall here at our paper, the Daily Dispatch later this year.
I hope for our sake it works.
The problem is that until you have a system of online revenue generation that pays for itself AND makes a profit, all the niceties of web-based media including multimedia will remain a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have.
As a journalist who firmly believes in telling stories across platforms, I think it would be a tragedy if we had to lose the amazing enhancement of stories through multimedia as the powers that be decide to pull their funding.

By: ThinkingAloud Fri, 29 Jan 2010 07:25:46 +0000 Surely the by-line on this story should read Joseph Heller? (Catch-22)

By: martty Fri, 29 Jan 2010 03:33:02 +0000 much larger lottery? newspapers have been waiting for that much larger lottery on the web for years and it ain’t coming. they need to find new revenue sources.

By: HBC Fri, 29 Jan 2010 01:03:00 +0000 The NYT obviously hasn’t come to terms with the long-term damage it sustained by cossetting and romanticizing false flag pseudo-journalists such as Judith Miller, as it has done over and over again for far too bloody long.

Until it has rid itself of these old establishment demons and becomes unimpeachable must-read source material for real people who give a hoot, it’s never going to be worth any online subscription fee, not high nor low – zero – to other than habitual masochists. And they’re a dying breed.

The list of other things NYT could be doing to reform itself and thus possibly earn that requisite perception of value is long, but signs the publishers are about to embark on any of them anytime soon are entirely missing.

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda…

Thus, until upstream changes occur, the NYT paywall plan is doomed. Completely and utterly. Sorry.

By: Curmudgeon Thu, 28 Jan 2010 23:34:05 +0000 The only way I would pay for online content.