• http://readaholicsanonymous-mustread.blogspot.com Dana Alma

    Terrific informative article! I completely agree with you, I’ve been blogging for a year and search the net for news. In all that time I’ve visited NYT maybe 6 times. What about Digg and other news gathering sites, it’s not just you searching. Thanks again, made me laugh in the wee hours or the morning.

  • Over the wall

    Here is somebody’s twitter feed of TimesWire links.


  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    Revenue is a tricky problem that goes well beyond convincing advertisers to pay as much for online ads as they do for print ads. (For instance, classified revenue is difficult to shift online as the competition is online classified sites such as monster, ebay, carmax, etc…).

    I touched on this briefly here:

  • http://www.Blippitt.com Chris Monty

    Wow, it truly sounds like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. This is going to be a disaster.

  • http://blog.nexcerpt.com/ Nexcerpt

    For bold, damning, stomach-turning evidence of why newspapers are increasingly doomed, read no further than the Bloomburg story you cite ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-28/new-york-times-fixes-paywall-glitches-to-balance-free-vs-paid-on-the-web.html )

    “The company has already repaired more than 500 of the 700 glitches uncovered during tests of the paywall system…” …thus proving they don’t know how to write the specifications for a system, let alone to build one.

    “Among the issues still being addressed are how the system will determine who is required to pay and the point at which various visitors hit the paywall…” …thus proving they don’t know how to write the requirements for a system, or when to write them.

    “The New York-based company is spending $40 million to $50 million on the project…” …thus proving they don’t know how to hire someone to implement such a simple concept, or manage them. How could anyone bloat this into more than a few hundred lines of code? Seriously!?! What — did they hire Microsoft? Is that the problem?

    How much more embarrassing could this get? They’ve failed at EVERY stage, in the most humbling ways, every one of which you learn to avoid on your second project — maybe your third, if you’re not very smart. These guys deserve to go out of business!

  • http://allanpollett.com Allan Pollett

    It sounds like an establishment problem to me. Basically, the higher up people at NY Times don’t know how to make money from free and are therefore very scared of it. 2005 when I heard they wanted to block search engines I thought they were insane. 2007 they briefly realized this themselves, but since then possibly they forgot to take their medication because they are obviously slipping back into it.

    Personally, as a web guy I see the online visitor as far more valuable then the offline reader for these reasons, which I mention in my article: http://allanpollett.com/blog/how-free-content-equals-big-money/

    My main points are that online is cheaper to implement, faster, more effective for advertisers, and as means to grow a market.

  • http://blog.agrawals.org rakeshlobster

    Great analysis, Danny.

    A few related points:
    – As much as the NYT and Keller like to bitch about the Huffington Post, it was their launch of Times Select that contributed to the rise of the Huffington Post. (I looked up the dates.) The Times could have owned all of that conversation, instead they took themselves out of it and gave the Huffington Post a huge opening that Arianna took and ran with.

    – While I admire your success and that of other former journalists like Om and Rafat Ali, SEL/SEW is not a fair comparison. You run a business-oriented site with a niche, loyal audience. People pay for your expertise (either with attention or cash) because it directly or indirectly helps them make money.

    Even with your prescience, I think you’d have a hard time making a general news site work economically. (I have no doubt you’d do it better than the people currently doing it.) But a core problem is that advertisers never cared about sponsoring national or international news. They cared about reaching audiences. Now they can reach those audiences more effectively through search, vertical players and direct email.

    A related problem is that many traditional newspaper advertisers have gone through consolidation, leaving fewer buyers with more leverage. Airlines, banks, department stores have all been huge advertisers. AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile will be another blow.

    There are a bunch of other structural changes that make things difficult: http://blog.agrawals.org/2009/04/05/newspaper-companies-cant-unring-the-bell/

    One lesson that newspapers can and should take away from the Web success stories is that you have to run a lot leaner. You have to be willing to let some things go, despite long traditions.

  • http://blog.agrawals.org rakeshlobster

    The NYT actually has a piece on the effect of mergers on ad spend (all media, not just newspapers):


    When AT&T and Cingular were separate entities in 2006, they spent a combined $3.62 billion on ads. In 2010, AT&T spent $2 billion.

  • http://www.experts-exchange.com Jenn Prentice

    Great article–particularly enjoyed the “secret tape” sections. I work for Experts Exchange, an online Q&A website that asks people to earn their membership by answering a few questions a month or pay for a subscription to the site. Our experience with the “paywall” makes me wholeheartedly agree with your assertion that ” many “digitally inclined” people pay for all types of content. But they pay for things of value.”
    However, given the ubiquitous nature of general news content, I think the Times was forced to go with a more “porous” subscription model. If there’s one thing Experts Exchange’s experience with subscriptions has taught me, it’s that not all digital subscriptions are created equal. The Times prior experience with Times Select coupled with the availability of many general news items on the Internet, forced the newspaper to flex a bit on how much content to let people see before they ask them to pay. On the other hand, sites with more specialized content may be able to experiment with more rigid standards for their digital subscription model.
    If you’re interested, you can read more about Experts Exchange’s history with paywalls and why the NYTimes model will probably work here: http://www.experts-exchange.com/blogs/EE-Tech-News/B_4262-Paywalls-Work.html

  • http://www.antezeta.com/blog/ Sean Carlos

    I can imagine that people clicking on links in twitter clients, e.g. Tweetdeck, or in any other apps which don’t send referrers, will break but I suppose that will just be a bit of collateral damage in the grand scheme of things, should anyone even notice.

  • http://soniameisenheimer.com sonia meisenheimer

    In spite of what seems like antiquated thinking applied to a modern publishing conundrum, I think it’s important to recognize the NYTimes for trying something ambitions. Hopefully they’re prepared to fail quickly and continue to reinvent what they’re doing until it clicks with their most business critical audiences.

    One thing that struck me about their recently announced model is that the user experience is overly complicated. Regular consumers will have a hard time understanding the details of why things are free or not free. It’s confusing! Too many layers and levels for regular consumers.

    I’d like to see the research that suggested to them that they should create such a confusing model. As a consumer of the NYTimes, it’s just uncomfortable enough that I’m tempted to abandon the site in favor of other news resources, beloved as they are to my daily routine.

    My opinion: They should have simply made limited SEO blurbs/digests for all stories available to non-subs and require subs for anything beyond a blurb or the first 400 words of a story. Force all story links to go to the SEO optimized blurb page – AND make the same subscription work across platforms. Force a ridiculous number of disruptive ads for non subscribers on video and multimedia products while simultaneously pitching a cheap, accessible subscription: $9.99/mo or $99.99 for the year when paid in advance.

    Why they are testing such awkward price points – and disrupting consumer contentment by charging for access per platform – is curious to me. If they could simplify things, it would make the decision to subscribe a lot easier – and access to their content for bloggers and heavy social media users a more natural user experience.

  • steve13565

    Sure I’d be willing to pay to read an article on The New York Times website. Given that I read lots of articles per week on lots of new sites, I think it may be worth from 0.1 cents to 1 cents per article read. Since I have nor way of knowing which sites will be supplying me with the articles I read, I have no way of nowing whihc (if any) site is worth even $1.00 per month.

    Google has the technology to implement a Micro-payment system They already do that for people who pay for ads on Google. These people pay by the click. Why is it so hard for The New York Times or for Google to realize what a goldmine they are sitting on if they only chose to mine it?

    I have tried to hand these people the idea on a silver platter. Perhaps it takes a Harvard student willing to drop out and become a billionaire with this idea.

  • MmeZeeZee

    I got here through LinkedIn. I used to be a daily reader of the New York Times online. But just as I was trying to cut down on my screen time, they launched this huge confusing initiative that I really wasn’t that interested in delving into. Based on the two seconds I had to look into it, I thought: “I’m going to end up paying for something I started to read *and* spending too much time online. I’d better just not go there any more.” And I put it on my verboten list with leechblock and haven’t been back since except to read a rare editorial someone posts on facebook. I have been online since 1995, but I just don’t have the time to navigate that s_t (since we’re letting it all hang out here). Between the payment system and Nick Kristof, the Times has lost me for good. Now I get my current events from the Christian Science Monitor. This article makes me glad. It sounds just as ridiculous as I suspected.