MediaFile

New York Times: Honest work means honest pay

Some people hate The New York Times and some people love The New York Times — but everybody wants to read The New York Times for free. That will largely end in 2011. You probably read that today on the Internet, and you probably read it for free.

The Times said it will let you read some articles per month for free, then make you pay for more. It’s what the Financial Times does. Who said it had to be original? If you subscribe to the print edition, just keep reading it. This isn’t really about you. This is a decision that will, for better or for worse, inform the public that if you want journalists to tell you stuff or entertain you, you need to pay them to do journalism all day long.

Lots of people have opinions on this and lots of people have done the research. Even more people style themselves Internet experts. The one thing they can’t help is sharing opinions on whether news sites should charge or whether they’re not just misguided for doing it — but whether they’re stupid or criminally wrong.

Everybody knows the sins that newspapers committed online. People will tell you: “They should have done it in 1995. They should do this, they should do that. If they do this, they have to give up that. They’re old media, they deserve to die. They’re doomed. They should sell. Too little too late. It won’t move the needle. They’re doing the wrong thing. I have data, do the math.”

Many people make good points. Still, what does the Times have to lose? NYTimes.com visitors? Pageviews? Ad revenue that isn’t really doing them many favors anyway? Publishers get so much conflicting information, and, to be honest, are a bit doddering and confused — so they stand still. Things fall apart from there.

Financial Times: Pay to play

I stumbled across this headline on Wednesday morning:

FT Bosses Launch PR Offensive For Paid-Content Model

I thought: “Launch? Don’t you mean ‘Launched’?” The Financial Times brass has been arguing for months that the only newspapers that will survive the tough times they have been through lately are those that stop giving away the news online, and can do it without sacrificing the advertising money they earn on the Web.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog that produced that headline, courtesy of digitalarmm:

Editor Lionel Barber tells Channel 4 in an interview that there is now “an inexorable momentum behind charging for content” and he urges other national papers only considering introducing paywalls — essentially all of them — to act now (See the video link inside the digtalarmm blog post)

Keep on rockin’ in the fee world, newspapers

It’s refreshing to read some reasoned thinking about the future of newspapers that does not come from

    Newspaper executives whose cheerleading about how they will survive — somehow — gets undercut by reporting a 30 percent drop in profits one quarter later, or Internet Cassandras who want newspapers to burn and die because they hate editors who get precious about how the calling of journalism trumps the rules of free markets and (more typically) because they hold dear the tradition of thinking that newspapers only print lies.

The Financial Times is the bearer of these encouraging if cautionary words in an editorial that it ran on Tuesday:

There are legitimate concerns about the disappearance of general papers. The best dig up stories and provide coverage of local, national and foreign news that enlightens readers and citizens. It is easy to undervalue such news when it has been plentiful for decades, but society would feel its absence.