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Paywalls To Drive Journalists Away In Addition To Consumers?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the lose-lose-lose dept.

The Media 131

Hugh Pickens writes "With news organizations struggling and newsroom jobs disappearing, each week brings new calls from writers and editors who believe their employers should save themselves by charging for Internet access. However, in an interesting turnabout, the NY Times reports that Saul Friedman, a journalist for more than 50 years and a columnist for Newsday since 1996, announced last week he was quitting after Newsday decided that non-subscribers to Newsday's print edition will have to pay $5 a week to see much of the site, making it one of the few newspapers in the country to take such a plunge. 'My column has been popular around the country, but now it was really going to be impossible for people outside Long Island to read it,' he says. Friedman, who is 80, said he would continue to write about older people for the site 'Time Goes By.' 'One of the reasons why the NY Times eventually did away with its old "paywall" was that its big name columnists started complaining that fewer and fewer people were reading them,' writes Mike Masnick at Techdirt. 'Newspapers who decide to put up a paywall may find that their best reporters decide to go elsewhere, knowing that locking up their own content isn't a good thing in terms of career advancement.'"

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131 comments

Reporters are basically bloggers then (5, Insightful)

rfugger (923317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952250)

Reading this, it strikes me that news sites are just big blogging sites. No blogger would want their content hidden behind a paywall, and reporters are more and more just professional bloggers.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952364)

Reading this, it strikes me that news sites are just big blogging sites.

Let me be the first to welcome you to the 21st century.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (2, Funny)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952454)

Journalists never went into journalism for the low pay, they want to be read.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952518)

The low pay is the best part.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954504)

Seems to me the answer is for the paywall to be a lower barrier. That is, any manufacturer knows there are usually two key price points for a given item: the price that leads to maximum sales, and the (higher) price that leads to maximum profits. It should be obvious that if a paywall is so high as to cause customers to prefer to go elsewhere, then profits suffer (bad business model). It should be equally obvious that a lower paywall would not turn away so many customers. And it is well known that some manufacturers have been willing to sacrifice the higher price point to increase market share. If news organizations need to pricify cybernews in order to survive, then the most obvious thing of all is that they shouldn't overdo it. Start out small, to keep as many customers as possible, and experiment with higher prices later. Note that when "later" arrives there might not be a need to raise prices. After all, it might be after the physical printing production plant has been closed down; why should online news subsidize print news that no longer exists?

Height of pay walls (1)

drx (123393) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955250)

There is no such thing as a correctly priced pay wall. There is only free content and content one should pay for. As long as there is so much free around, nobody is going to bother paying a single penny.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (5, Funny)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952624)

You say that but I was going to be a journalist purely for the low pay. Then I realised I could be up to my elbows in shit and get low pay by cleaning public toilets and that's how I got where I am today.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (3, Interesting)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952646)

Kind of like .. oh I don't know .. musicians.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (4, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953004)

Not entirely - Sure, when I was a reporter it did great things for my ego to have folks tell me they read an article I did and having one on the front page made it tough to fit my ego through a doorway, but I (and most of the other folks I went through J-School with) did it because we honestly thought we would accomplish something, do something to better society. While I won a couple of awards for some invetigative pieces I did (specifically on the blight of the homeless in Central California and programs designed to protect battered women) and saw some (minor) positive changes come of it, I realized that I was never going to be one of those reporters who would change the world. I didn't decide to get out of the business because my ego was bruised that I wasn't accomplishing a lofty goal - I got out of it because I moved into fields where I have been able to do some good.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954284)

blight of the homeless in Central California

Such ambiguity is the reason that people don't read journalists.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955940)

misexistentialist, that was supposed to be "plight." And people don't read journalists. Possibly their T-shirts, or their articles, but rarely, if ever, the journalist.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954940)

I didn't decide to get out of the business because my ego was bruised that I wasn't accomplishing a lofty goal - I got out of it because I moved into fields where I have been able to do some good.

Heh, interesting. Did you know that road runs both ways?

I've fallen sideways into part-time journalism because I wanted to do some good. After 4 years of work with NGOs in a developing country, I realised that some important issues just weren't getting the analysis (and attention) they deserved, so I started writing a weekly column in one of the national newspapers. It helped my work quite a bit, because whenever I had a conversation with someone, we'd have common context to work with.

Since then, I was asked to write a general purpose editorial column in the other major newspaper. So now I spend more time writing and researching than I do with my NGO work. Happily, there are others to pick up the slack.

My biggest lesson? Writing a clear, well-argued editorial is hard. But writing a clear, well argued editorial that leads people to stop me in the streets and thank me for raising the issue is incredibly rewarding. Sometimes they agree with me, sometimes they don't. I don't care about that. I just want them to think.

If my columns were ever put behind a paywall, I'd just post them on my own site for free (well, actually, I do that anyway). Limiting exposure to such material is, in my opinion, cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (0, Flamebait)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955504)

Getting into journalism "to do good" misses the point of journalism entirely.

Provide analysis to "do good". Be a journalist by reporting the damn facts.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955998)

CaptSlaq, what are you talking about? Reporting facts is (should be) a cornerstone of what separates a "journalist" from a "blogger." The point of journalism is to accurately report on events, informing people about those events of which they would otherwise not be aware. By opening readers' eyes to things, you have the potential to spur them into action. Every reporter provides analysis when writing a story. Hell, even the transition sentences between paragraphs are analysis of how the facts/statements in the previous paragraph lead to the next.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957302)

Here's the problem with "wanting to change the world with reporting".
Everyone has a perspective. ANYTIME you start dropping perspective into a news piece, you are slanting it.
Here's an example:
"The man slept soundly through the cacophony of the party around him."
When you take the slant out of that, you get this:
"A man slept while at a party."
It's subtle, but it matters.
News reporting, at it's heart NEEDS to be as transparent as possible, which generally translates to boring. If you're in it to change the world, you're generally not going to do that. You're going to throw out your wordsmithing cred, and put something that will get noticed, not unbiased.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956394)

Getting into journalism "to do good" misses the point of journalism entirely.

Provide analysis to "do good". Be a journalist by reporting the damn facts.

I couldn't disagree more. Publishing objective truth and honest analysis is 'doing good.'

First, if you don't think truth-telling shouldn't be pursued in the spirit of public service, then what motivation would you suggest?

It takes a thick skin and a lot more motivation than simple greed to endure the grind of getting and publishing facts. The publisher of our national daily has been threatened, beaten and even briefly jailed for publishing the truth. One of his reporters was beaten so badly she miscarried. She's still on the beat. There are far safer ways of making money than that.

Second, analysis that isn't just as well-sourced and researched as straight reporting isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I'll agree that in the US there's a noticeable dearth of good analysis in print. But elsewhere in the world, that's not always the case.

For my part, I work very closely with the reporters to verify facts and events, and I have also conducted original research as well. I've been wrong on points of fact once or twice, but not very often.

Opinion is... well, opinion. I'm paid to have one. But to the extent that time and opportunity allow, it's based on a full appreciation of the facts and solid, clear reasoning. And that is the good I'm trying to do.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955088)

The blight of the homeless in CA?

Wasn't that Down And Out in Beverly Hills?

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952370)

Reading this, it strikes me that news sites are just big blogging sites. No blogger would want their content hidden behind a paywall, and reporters are more and more just professional bloggers.

You're talking about columnists, not reporters. They are different.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952494)

"You're talking about columnists, not reporters. They are different."

Really? Because the best I can tell, the only difference is that columnists are upfront about injecting their opinions into theior writing , and journalists pretend that they don't - sometimes even to themselves.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953372)

Not sure if that's a dig at Fox News or not. Be that as it may - I'm growing more and more disgusted with the main media "news" sites. Places like CNN have online discussions with many of their news articles. You have to register of course - which is cool. But, as soon as you post something that they deem to be "politically incorrect", you are censored. Complain a few times, and your account is locked, your IP address banned, and they might even send some activists to your door to re-educate you.

Censorship - it's not just for government!

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954550)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech

Congress shall make no law. But there is no law in-question here.

On CNN's website, they ARE the law (when it comes to censoring posted speech). You agreed to the terms in order to use their service. The censoring happens only after you read the EULA, click the box and press OK, and it happens entirely on their servers (not public property).

If you hate the policies so much, just make your own news discussion site (blog). Or if you're lazy like me, you could just submit it to Slashdot and wait two days :)

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955162)

Well - I'm trying to understand how and why your quote applies to my statement. I didn't ask for a law to be imposed that will allow me to have my say. I merely expressed my disgust with the "media" owners that prohibit free speech on their sites.

BTW - I respect none of those "terms of use" crap things. Have you seen how many demand to know your real name, your address, and other identifying information? So long as proxies exist, I'll be able to use the name "John Smith", or whatever the hell I choose to be, LOL

That is not the diference, and you know it. (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957328)

But if you want some admiration for your ingenious use of the English language, here is your reward: clap, clap, clap, you are fucking clever...

Not true... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952628)

You're talking about columnists, not reporters. They are different.

Not true for threereasons:

1) Most reporters just regurgitate whatever their sources give them (do you ever read what they usually write in a follow up on a crime?)

2) There are bloggers like Radley Balko [theagitator.com] who have stronger reporter bona fides than most of the people who work at the NY Times.

3) There are many reporters who run blogs as part of their business.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (5, Funny)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952634)

You're talking about columnists, not reporters. They used to be different.

Fixed it for you

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954532)

I frequently hear that newspapers should adapt their 'business model' to the Internet. But what are their options really? Since the salary is not free, consumers will have to pay for content that isn't just what any blogger can read from his tea leaves.
Otherwise we won't have investigative journalism anymore and stories that go deep.
I think I would consider paying for investigative stories that provide background.

For example, newspapers could come up with free articles that introduce to the topic and awake interest. That should cover what bloggers also cover. But then provide a link to the article that gives deep background knowledge (and charge for it).

Ok, maybe this is what they are trying to do already, I'm going to RTFA now...

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955896)

Otherwise we won't have investigative journalism anymore and stories that go deep.

But, with very very rare exceptions, we haven't had that for at least a couple of decades anyway. So where's the loss?

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952558)

The difference between a blog and a news site is that I expect (to some degree) a news site to be credible, I want reporters to do their fact checking, relevant research, etc etc when they pick up a story. Whereas a Blogger might have been there to experience it first hand they generally aren't bound by the same rules that require a journalist to be accurate and reliable.

If I'm checking out CNN.com I expect the articles to be a little bit better than a bloggers because the journalist is typically getting paid to write them.

Now personally, I'm not going to shell out 5 dollars a week just to check out a news site, but they have to make money somehow - so it was only time before this happened. Journalists who write to be read will leave. Journalists who write to get paid will stay.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955242)

One of the flaws in your argument is the assertion that bloggers do not get paid. While that is the case for most of them, there are those who rake in huge amounts of ad revenue on their blog. IIRC, the guy who runs The Daily Kos is now a millionaire. I'm sure there are other examples of bloggers hitting it big. So, good journalists can continue to get paid and get well read, so long as they are capable of drawing in a large enough population.

As far as facts go, there are many, many incidents in the history of journalism that make it clear journalists are not saints. On the contrary, they are just as fallible as we are, if not more so in some cases. An example is the lead up to the Spanish-American war, where journalists leveled wild accusations against the Spanish. Walter Duranty, IIRC, won a Pulitzer prize for denying the existence of the Ukrainian famine. Dan Rather was thrown off for forging papers (though the substance of those papers may have been at least somewhat true).

I would say that the fact that blogs have no air of authority is a good thing, because lies and distortions as above wouldn't have had the same impact if made by Joe Blow on his blog.

Re:Reporters are basically bloggers then (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955920)

The difference between a blog and a news site is that I expect (to some degree) a news site to be credible, I want reporters to do their fact checking, relevant research, etc etc when they pick up a story.

When you find a site (or any outlet, online or otherwise) that does any of that, please let me know. Because I'm dying for such a thing and can't find it anywhere.

Rumor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952252)

i heard any AC remark you've made while logged in can be made public, as they are all recorded. Any concerns?

Re:Rumor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952438)

i heard any AC remark you've made while logged in can be made public, as they are all recorded. Any concerns?

Yes, I am very concerned.

Re:Rumor (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952510)

Personally, I don't give a shit. If what you're saying is true then many I'd have been beaten mercilessly by gangs of angry Negroes, Hispanics, Jews, Southerners, Homosexuals, and then jailed years ago for bogus "online hate speech" or "harassment" or something.

I'm actually surprised that it hasn't yet happened, because the Slashdot staff are a bunch of Boy Scouts and would probably roll over everytime somebody flashes a badge. Because trolling is a threat to national security ;)

Opinion columnists are like bloggers (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952258)

Opinion columnists are just like bloggers. Even if there is a sound argument for a news organization to succeed by putting up a pay-wall on their website (and I believe that a good news organization could do so and succeed), it does not apply to opinion columnists who are not providing anything different than bloggers do.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952354)

ding ding! opinions are worth crap these days.

There are definitely two news sites I'd pay for, the Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

That is because they have real value to me. The rest is rubbish, I can survive with not reading. YMMV.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (2, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953088)

> opinions are worth crap these days

Apparently Newsday thinks they're worth $5.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952596)

The difference should be in the quality and depth of analysis. If they don't offer than quality then you needn't pay.
It's akin to saying professional basketball players don't provide anything different than high school basketball players do.

"Quality" (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952716)

You mean like how Vox Day [blogspot.com] , who is a very big libertarian blogger, has made Paul Krugman look like an utter fool time and again on his blog? Or the way that Maureen Dowd consistently writes stuff that is no better than 90% of the stuff posted daily on the Huffington Post?...

Re:"Quality" (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955530)

Vox Day is an idiot. He makes the same mistakes Rand did... Objectivism needs to be taken out to the woodshed and shot, because it quite simply does not match up with reality.

Re:"Quality" (1)

Derleth (197102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955686)

Everyone hates Objectivism but nobody has any arguments against it. Everyone who I've ever heard putting Objectivism down is putting Rand down in the same breath, as if her personal qualities were at all relevant to a philosophical discussion.

In short: Explain to me why Objectivism is evil without once attacking Ayn Rand or any other human being.

Re:"Quality" (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956298)

Explain to me why Objectivism is evil

I never said it was evil (a concept can't be evil, IMO, only people can). I said it needs to be taken out to the woodshed and shot. Objectivism as a foundation for economic systems is a failure, since it fails to accurately reflect the fact that actors can be, and often are, irrational.

There you go.

And FWIW, I believe that many Objectivists are indeed evil, as many of them value their personal gain over the suffering of others to a ridiculous degree.

Re:"Quality" (1)

Derleth (197102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956998)

Objectivism as a foundation for economic systems is a failure, since it fails to accurately reflect the fact that actors can be, and often are, irrational.

A problem with your attack is that standard economic theory works the same way. Look up Homo economicus some time.

Re:"Quality" (1)

Derleth (197102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957050)

I should probably clarify that I have no love or hate for Objectivism. I'm merely trying to get a cogent argument out of someone who obviously hates it.

Why? Because it should be amusing. Everyone who comments on it online, it seems, has an almost cartoonish hatred of the philosophy, its adherents, and Ayn Rand. However, it seems that most of them cannot separate those hatreds in a rational fashion, leading to purely ad hominem attacks against the philosophy. In short, it seems like they hate it because some of the adherents are assholes and Ayn Rand was really ugly.

So I'm happy I found someone who has an actual argument.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952892)

The difference should be in the quality and depth of analysis. If they don't offer than quality then you needn't pay.

And there is the problem, the best newspaper columnists are no better than the best bloggers in the quality and depth of analysis. I would say that the reverse is true, the best bloggers have better quality and depth of analysis than the best newspaper columnists. The few newspaper columnists I can think of that are very good, are also bloggers.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954530)

I think the Wall Street Journal has been tempting the rest of them a little too well.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29954974)

Okay, so your argument can be broken down to "some employees of large, greedy, corporations who happen to disagree with some of the worst actions of the corporations are just like this group of people we hate so they don't count."

Wow. You voted Republican, didn't you.

Re:Opinion columnists are like bloggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29955330)

They are just like bloggers. Bloggers who can write.

career advancement? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952272)

"...their best reporters decide to go elsewhere, knowing that locking up their own content isn't a good thing in terms of career advancement."

"Friedman, who is 80.."

Yes. Yes, that is obviously why. More readers to further his career.. yes, that must be it.

Re:career advancement? (2, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952378)

Hey, given some people live upwards of 110+ years of age there is no reason he can't continue to increase his fame for the next 20 as long as he's in good health. It's not the norm, but neither is running a marathon at 70; people still want to do it on occasion.

Re:career advancement? (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952680)

With all due respect to Mr. Friedman, I don't think career advancement ever entered the decision making process.

Re:career advancement? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952764)

The great thing about being old is you can do things purely for the principle of it without worrying about how it's going to affect your career. He is making a strong statement with his actions, but no one is going to listen until the young up-and-coming journalists start to do the same thing. Given the intense competition in that field, I'm not holding my breath on that happening.

Net Neutrality (4, Interesting)

TonTonKill (907928) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952274)

From TFA:

Customers of Cablevision, the cable and Internet provider that owns Newsday, and people who subscribe to Newsday in print will still be able to browse Newsday.com unfettered

Would any of the currently proposed net neutrality laws prevent Cablevision from charging other people for web content that it gives to its own ISP customers for free? Or is this considered an acceptable competitive practice?

Re:Net Neutrality (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952962)

This is kind of a grey area not covered by Net Neutrality. It's not that the ISP is blocking the access, but the content provider is only selling to one customer, which is the ISP itself. It is completely legal for the foreseeable future for a content provider to choose whom their customers are. Net Neutrality is more about keeping third parties from interfering in that decision.

Re:Net Neutrality (1)

the_lesser_gatsby (449262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953146)

Try this: Would any of the currently proposed net neutrality laws prevent Cablevision from charging other people for cable tv that it gives to its own ISP customers for free? Or is this considered an acceptable competitive practice?

tough life for writers (2, Insightful)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952366)

The fact is that writing as a profession has such low barriers to entry these days these days (all you need is a keyboard, an internet connection, and a deal in place to host your published ideas), and the concept that ideas from certain writers are more valuable than others seems to be misguided.

Instead, sites should focus on improving their most worthwhile content by making sure their best writers are writing IN DEPTH INVESTIGATIVE STORIES that elevate the nationwide discussion. For what it's worth, the strategy of publishing mounds of opinionated drivel is being demonstrated to lead to minimal success.

Though, while we're here I'd like to plug my own source of potentially opinionated drivel at my site [robertvandyk.com] and invite anybody who thinks my ideas are worthwhile to help me get some of my ideas published in the mainstream media (which unrelentlessly still controls 90% of the power within the news publication game).

Re:tough life for writers (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953012)

Instead, sites should focus on improving their most worthwhile content by making sure their best writers are writing IN DEPTH INVESTIGATIVE STORIES that elevate the nationwide discussion.

Makes me wonder if there wouldn't be a way to set up some kind of freelance exchange? Give content distributors a chance to bid on stories for something like a 2 week exclusive before it shows up anywhere else. It would create a competitive content market and give distributors access to a deeper bench without being saddled with the payroll.

I'd use something like that. I could research articles in my spare time. It would be fun.

Re:tough life for writers (2, Insightful)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953340)

Investigative journalism can't be done in your spare time. However, you could be an "expert source" that contributes to investigative stories done by professional journalists.

There is a need for truly ground-breaking investigative stories to come from journalists who are well-connected politically so they can get interviews from real decision-makers about what's going on in the world. I suspect Watergate would not have been possible if a world where the main source of news is the rants and raves coming from the Blogosphere.

Not "Reporters" or "Journalists"! (5, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952376)

Both the Newsday columnist who resigned over the Newsday paywall and the NY Times columnists who protested the NY Times paywall are just that: columnists, not reporters or journalists.

Columnists are people for whom the newspaper is a vehicle for the broad distribution of their writings, which are not even notionally constrained by the standards of fact reporting, or even news analysis. Columns are vehicles by which the columnists ideas, pet causes, ideology, other products (like books), etc., are promoted. The interests of columnists may be very different than the interests of journalists with regard to paywalls.

Yes, they are journalists (2, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952916)

I define as journalists anybody who writes for a publication according to a certain set of standards.

The main standard is that you're committed to telling the truth more than you are to promoting a cause. As Richard Feynman said, if the facts go against your position, you have to report those facts. Same rule for journalists and scientists.

Traditionally, a newspaper columnist started out as a reporter, and after he mastered the job, he moved up to writing a column (sort of like a cop who gets promoted to detective). And Saul Friedman was a reporter at Newsday before he became a columnist.

There was a bad practice at the New York Times and elsewhere of making columnists out of people who had never worked as journalists, and who often had nothing to offer beyond an ideological position. Example: William Kristol.

Molly Ivins wrote about this. She said that when you work as a reporter, you learn how to figure things out and get to the facts in a hurry. You cover a school board meeting, people are throwing charges back and forth, and a reporter has to figure out what's going on. Ivins said that a lot of columnists were political appointees, and never learned how to do that. They never learned basic fact-checking. So they can't even get their basic facts right. Just because some economist at the Heritage Foundation or some guy at the CIA said something, that doesn't mean it's true.

Some bloggers are journalists. They check out their facts, and report the facts no matter whose ox gets gored. I pay to read that.

Some bloggers just spout their own opinions and cut and paste whatever they happen to agree with. They're not journalists. Most of them aren't worth reading, even for free.

The Return of the Pamphleteer (1, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952390)

I think the meme that everyone is having such trouble shaking off is the idea of "objective" news. While I would argue that there has never been such an animal, the future definitely belongs to viewpoint-specific publications. There may well be a market for the AP/Reuters news service model, but after that I just don't see the rest surviving.

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (5, Insightful)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952774)

I disagree completely. I think people will absolutely pay for news--but opinion is, as said upwards of here, worth exactly crap in terms of monetary value. And so little of newsreporting today has even the PRETENSE of objectivity and professional integrity that nobody is interested in paying for it. Why pay for bloggers? Blogs are free and free for a reason.

This is why the Wall Street Journal's readership is actually going UP while their competitors are losing money right and left. The WSJ has actual reporting going on, which is thorough, professionally edited and mostly free from bias and agenda. And they do a good job of keeping their news pages and opinion pages distinct from each other, unlike the Times and most of the now-dying newspaper industry.

Journalism used to be a craft, one that involved not only finding out what happened but reporting what happened objectively, leaving it to the reader to make up his or her own mind about what the story really means. Nowadays ersatz "journalists" think it's ok to be social crusaders, and objectivity is laughed off as though it were obsolete and unreasonable. (I graduated one of the nation's top journalism schools, and saw this firsthand.) This mindset is what has the newsroom in the grip of death.

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954120)

"(I graduated one of the nation's top journalism schools, and saw this firsthand.) This mindset is what has the newsroom in the grip of death."

Thank you. I'd friend you if I thought it meant anything.

I agree that people WILL pay for "the facts" - that's why I mentioned the AP/Reuters model. While I may agree that the WSJ fits as well, there are may who view it as hopelessly biased - conservatively, that is.

Here's my vision of how it works. The wire services partly adopt the Google model: users can sign up for a free subscription, and they get the feed in the raw. With that feed comes links to various blogs/opinion sites - they pay to get their link there.. Other sites can link to the wire service article, and they can get paid by the click. Or some other arrangement. So if I want to just get "Shit blowed up, 25 dead" I get right to it.

If Joe Blow can charge people to hear his opinions of what happened, more power to him. But since opinions are like assholes, there's always some available for free. Of course, access to some highly skilled assholes is still worth a LOT of money. But then there's issues of morality, legality...

Wait - when did I stop talking about journalists and start talking about prostitutes?

Or did I?

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (2, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954454)

the Wall Street Journal's readership is actually going UP while their competitors are losing money right and left

According to this graph [theawl.com] , the WSJ readership is flat (there was a surge a few years back because of online subscriptions, but that seems to be a redefinition of "circulation" as much as anything else). If that graph is correct, the WSJ is certainly doing better than the other newspapers (which are in free-fall), but their circulation doesn't seem to be going up.

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954648)

I think people will absolutely pay for news--but opinion is, as said upwards of here, worth exactly crap in terms of monetary value.

Already lots of pundits get to charge for "exclusive" access to their websites. Never underestimate a persons desire to surround themselves with other, like-minded people.

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956392)

... The WSJ has actual reporting going on, which is thorough, professionally edited and mostly free from bias and agenda.

What? I had to quit reading after this (emphasis mine).

Re:The Return of the Pamphleteer (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954632)

I agree. People say they want non-biased news, but they don't. What they want is news that matches their own biases.

No one ever writes an angry letter saying "while I agree with everything you're saying, you're letting your bias show"

Look for heads to roll and mergers to occur (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952392)

From a mile-high view I believe that the swelling of "news" organizations since techno-social growth will - naturally - shrink to a manageable size. Those in control of the news in this downsizing will have (sorry ... *should have*) a responsibility to us (as the consumers) to report more news and less opinion.

Either way, times will still be trying for the ones that remain and my recommendation to them is to partner and merge with "access" technologies - such as the iPod, Blackberry, and other smart connect / convenience technologies.

newspapers commit suicide with poor pricing (3, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952422)

I'd support up to a dollar per week, 20% discount for year-paid, for a couple of may favorite online news sites. But not $250 a year. Printing and distribution costs are nearly negligible then. All the money would go to paying reportors and editors. It sounds like the print media did not learn the "Goldilocks" online music tale: CDs too much, napster too little and iTunes about right. When you get it right you'll have paying customers.

Brief delay might work; Consolidation WILL happen (4, Interesting)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952426)

Linux Weekly News (LWN.net) [lwn.net] has managed to keep going by having a temporary paywall. That is, you pay to get immediate access to articles, and after a week, anyone can see them. This might work in some cases, at the least, you could generate some revenue if people were willing to pay for immediate access, while not driving away the authors who want many readers. I will say that for LWN, they're making some money but they certainly aren't rolling in it, so even if that works, it will not bring back the massive money inflows that these organizations are used to.

Let's be honest: There is a glut of news organizations, and consolidation WILL happen. The internet has permanently changed the market. I don't see that the U.S. government needs to get involved; we have NOT lost the ability to receive news. Yes, many news organizations are going out of business, and in the future we will need fewer of them. But that's simply how competition works.

Re:Brief delay might work; Consolidation WILL happ (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952486)

Will happen? Then what is AP and Reuters?

And how exactly will this consolidated news company report local news.

Re:Brief delay might work; Consolidation WILL happ (1)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953092)

Neither the AP nor Reuters is a consolidation. They are wire services, making it possible for news and art to be distributed to papers far and wide who pay for their services. They actually do more to support a greater multitude of newsrooms that can rely on their service for world news while remaining local to their communities to report their regional and local stories.

Re:Brief delay might work; Consolidation WILL happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952610)

>There is a glut of news organizations, and consolidation WILL happen.

I think it HAS happened, not will happen. But only if you consider the big media conglomerates are actual news organizations rather than infotainment.

How to put laid off journalists to work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952492)

Let's hire these journalists to document our code! There must be billions of uncommented lines out there for which they could craft elegant explanatory prose, and help us out in the process.

wall building (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952502)

Modern news distribution derives its value from two things: First, the reliability of its product. Second, the timeliness of its product. Newspapers and magazines fail the test because they are release daily, weekly, or even monthly -- whereas other distribution mediums can do it in seconds or minutes. This is not, however, what killed them. The deciding factor is therefore the reliability of the product. Unfortunately, the news industry has made several very bad decisions regarding this:

First, was catering to certain groups (liberals, conservatives, etc.) and following the demographics rather than the story. While this improves profitibility over the short term, it sets things up for a diminishing returns cycle -- to maintain the higher profitibility the product must be targeted more with each iteration, leading to an alienation of those who do not share the increasingly-restricted viewpoint. That is to say, they become aware of the bias and lose confidence in the product. This "short sell" ideology permeates many industries -- in some cases, the results are more dramatic and immediate than other cases.

Second, was the packaging of such information. Even leading up to the 9/11 media event, packaging of information from major news sources was being called into question. Scandals rocked the New York Times, Washington Post, and all major television networks within a three-year timespan -- why? In every case, the rush to get the information to press caused errors to be made. In other words, a lack of process control. The coverage of 9/11 -- with its constant flood of meaningless and un-contextualized data overloaded people. Simply put, anything that's "hot" is over-saturated and in their rush to deliver the latest "news" they bury people in a crap-flood of information -- there was a loss of impact.

The third factor in the loss of reliability of major media organizations was a lack of peer review. Because most of the media distribution in this country is owned by a select few individuals and/or corporations, the industry homogenized. There was no further innovation. In the quest for profitibility, only methods of reporting and investigation were used that guaranteed eyeballs. As history has shown time and time again, the key to the long-term survival of a business, or industry, is adapability. This was sacrificed when the industry homogenized into only a few major corporate players -- leading to formulaic products that were too similar to one another.

Finally, the rise of social networking and the internet proved that word of mouth is the most effective way of spreading information that is NOT time-sensitive. Ironically, the random churning of information on the internet was better at distributing stories than decades-old systems of distribution: Why? Because the information had been separated out into a free-format. Like CDs, where you have to purchase the entire album in order to get that one song -- this was how the media operated. No longer -- and the result was that over a period of days or weeks, many millions more would see a given product because of referrals by friends. The news industry failed to capitalize upon this by creating stand-alone product that could be distributed between people and remain intact (for example, with its advertising or "related" content hooks, perhaps in something similar to PDF).

Re:wall building (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955516)

Modern news distribution derives its value from two things: First, the reliability of its product. Second, the timeliness of its product.

If your interpretation of "news" is the latest headlines with some facts, pictures, and possibly video footage thrown in to sastisfy the limited attention spans of those watching TV or clicking away in their browser, then sure.

Otherwise, your criteria are rubbish. There are plenty of weekly, bi-monthly and monthly publications that not only are profitable, but also have increasing readership numbers.

I fall into the latter category. The way I see it, reading publications which don't fit your definition are like long and leisurely conversations of events with intelligent and knowledgable people. The initial emotions have subsided, the wheat separated from the chaffe, and everyone with a viewpoint, insight or additional information has been given time to submit input and given due consideration.

I end up with broad and multiple perspectives, analysis and all the relevant facts, and come up away with a full understanding of what happened. What have you got? Timely and reliable reporting telling you that something did?

Re:wall building (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956480)

If your interpretation of "news" is the latest headlines...

News, n.: 1. A report of a recent event; intelligence; information. 2. The presentation of a report on recent or new events in a newspaper or other periodical or on radio or television.

There are plenty of weekly, bi-monthly and monthly publications that not only are profitable, but also have increasing readership numbers.

I'm going to hell for this, but...Citation needed. Even if it were true, it's still a fallacy of composition: You're arguing from the specific to the general. My statement is made about the entire industry, not specific segments within it. As a general statement, it will hold broadly true but not necessarily be correct in every case.

I end up with broad and multiple perspectives, analysis and all the relevant facts, and come up away with a full understanding of what happened. What have you got? Timely and reliable reporting telling you that something did?

Whatever you're ending up with is not "broad and multiple perspectives". What you're talking about is called an analysis, which includes one or more interpretations of a given event in context with other events and/or information. The fact that "broad and multiple perspectives" are present (or not) in the analysis does not create any added value. News is the report of an event and/or facts. An analysis takes that information and draws conclusions about the objects presented and includes predictions about the future based on the information presented.

What I stated earlier are some of the same principles behind intelligence (intelligence gathering). The same principles apply in the civilian world, for much the same reason: It's a way of sorting and refining information in such a way that informed decisions can be made. I will again state the relevant factors:

1. Timeliness.
A transmission from the enemy that a missile launch will occur in 10 minutes. In 10 minutes, that communication will have no value. There is a window of opportunity after which the information loses value. Likewise, reporting that a child has been kidnapped is a time-sensitive matter -- the likelihood of a successful retrieval drops substantially over the course a few hours. Civilian reporting agencies play a crucial role in public safety here, but can only do so if the information can be distributed quickly.

2. Verification.
There's a lot of difference between an informant claiming that a terrorist is planning to bomb the town square at noon, and an intercepted cell phone call to his commander. The source of the information is also crucial in establishing trust. In a civilian context, consider the case of Deep Throat [wikipedia.org] . The scenario could not have occurred if the Washington Post was not a trusted reporting agency.

reliability and bias (2, Insightful)

michaelhawk (1667847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956054)

I appreciate your analysis, but would like to add a few things.

-

You said:

The deciding factor is therefore the reliability of the product. Unfortunately, the news industry has made several very bad decisions regarding this:

First, was catering to certain groups (liberals, conservatives, etc.) and following the demographics rather than the story. While this improves profitibility over the short term, it sets things up for a diminishing returns cycle -- to maintain the higher profitibility the product must be targeted more with each iteration, leading to an alienation of those who do not share the increasingly-restricted viewpoint. That is to say, they become aware of the bias and lose confidence in the product. This "short sell" ideology permeates many industries -- in some cases, the results are more dramatic and immediate than other cases.

Thesis: The MSM has to deal with an audience that is polarized, distracted, transient, and lazy. The appropriate product for that audience is biased, sensationalized, cheap, and simplified. The thougthful online audience doesn't pay the bills. This leads the MSM to pander to the polarized, lazy audience, resulting in a product whose content and style alienates thoughtful people. A vicious circle that results in a gradual loss of reliability.

1) The polarization of the audience is a pressure external to the MSM to which the big papers and television have had to adapt. Culture War [wikipedia.org] is a term that describes the aggressive, polarized public sphere America has been experiencing for about 30 or 40 years. The idea that America is at war with itself has appealed to political activists who promote extreme rhetoric advocating their point of view. We have seen the rise of privately funded "think tanks" producing analysis and science that c/overtly promotes a certain line of thinking. The MSM has been met by the non-MSM, like conservative talk radio, which has taught millions of people the New York Times is a commie rag. This is the atmosphere to which a MSM news organization has to adapt. The MSM papers are caught up in a whirlpool of accusations of bias from 2 sides (and more) from which it is very difficult to escape. Read the comments sections of many papers for signs of the insanity, especially on articles linked from the DrudgeReport.

You have called this a loss of reliability of the news paper. We might call it a loss of reliability of the reader who is so consumed by his point of view that he interprets every alternative point of view as a declaration of war. These readers can no longer be trusted to demand quality journalism. Instead they want affirmative journalism. This leads to a lowest-common-denominator media analysis that screams bias everywhere it goes.

2) The MSM no longer has a lock on the attention of the average person. Hard news is hard to make and hard to consume, and most people don't bother.

Just over four in 10 adults said they had read a newspaper, in print or online, the previous day, compared with 58 percent in 1994. The number of people who read a newspaper online only was relatively small, though it has kept the total from slipping further.

... But young adults also are more likely to not follow the news at all — an ominous reminder of the challenge still facing the industry.

... The number of people who regularly watch nightly network news is down to 28 percent, half the total from 1993.

... For example, 7 percent of those polled get news from new technologies such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and podcasts. Among those age 18-29, the number is 13 percent, according to the poll of 3,204 adults conducted from April 27 to May 22. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

With all these new options, people spend about the same time keeping up on the news — just over an hour in a given day — as they did a decade ago.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14109032/ [msn.com]

This readership is transient and oriented to what is easy. The MSM responds to this. Articles are shorter to fit into the new devices and the attention span of readers. They push stories about celebrities, anything sensational like abductions, and the human interest angle. They render simplified versions of world events, turning everything into good and evil.

3) What about the thoughtful news audience? It is becoming increasingly difficult for the MSM to maintain a reliable audience of thoughtful people. These are the ones clever enough to gather their own news, from 100 sources. Even readers of a powerhouse like the NYT will go elsewhere. Their reading time is fractured across many more papers now. Web ads were supposed to do make this kind of readership pay the bills, but it has failed for the most part. That is why we are seeing paywalls.

Re:wall building (1)

massysett (910130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956966)

Modern news distribution derives its value from two things: First, the reliability of its product. Second, the timeliness of its product. Newspapers and magazines fail the test because they are release daily, weekly, or even monthly -- whereas other distribution mediums can do it in seconds or minutes. This is not, however, what killed them. The deciding factor is therefore the reliability of the product.

All the reasons you give in your post have to do with the quality of the content that major media organizations put out. That quality, or lack thereof, has little to do with the downfall of newspapers.

Like many you seem to assume that, as a reader of a newspaper, you are the newspaper's customer. This is false. During the print era, what you paid for a paper copy only covered the cost of printing and distributing the paper. During the web era, you don't even pay for what you read on the website.

You pay practically nothing; you are not the customer. No, the advertisers are the customers. Quite simply, the advertisers found better, lower-cost ways to advertise their products. Classified ads were a huge source of revenue for newspapers. That's been decimated by the Internet. Cars go to cars.com; real estate goes to trulia.com; jobs go to monster.com; everything goes to craigslist. Display ads have taken a huge hit too, which has been made worse by the economic downturn.

If your "low quality news has led to fewer readers" hypothesis were true, then people would not be reading the newspapers' Web products. To the contrary: the newspapers are drawing huge Web audiences. The problem for the newspapers is that advertisers aren't willing to pay nearly as much for Web ads as they will for print ads.

A lot of people are saying that newspapers aren't relevant for their readers, or they aren't credible sources anymore. Even if this is true (and Web traffic tells a different story) it simply ignores the business realities. Remember that readers don't pay for newspapers. They never have. Advertisers pay for newspapers. It is the advertising market that has changed, not the quality of what's in the newspapers and not the relevance or timeliness of what's in the newspapers.

Sounds like a perfect solution. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952534)

This sounds like the perfect way to solve their financial issues. Why, just the other day I had a fire burning in my back yard. I did what any other sound-minded individual would do: I poured gasoline on the fire. You see, if I make things worse by increasing the rate at which the fire is burning, eventually there will be nothing left to burn and the fire will be gone.

In the same regard, by alienating their employees and consumers, these people will eventually stop taking part in the traditional (and failing) news system. If there are no whining consumers or disgruntled employees, then the problem will be solved! It will burn itself out!

I fail to see any flaws in the plan.

Re:Sounds like a perfect solution. (2, Interesting)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953160)

Which is better: 10,000,000 readers generating no revenue, or 100,000 readers generating $250/year each? If you are an egoist or an evangelist, the former. If you are a business or an individual trying to earn a living, the latter. In this case, it seems as if Mr. Friedman is in the first group, and Newsday is in the second. Their interests no longer line up, so it makes sense for them to part ways. However, my guess is that the vast majority of Newday's employee's are in the second group, and they will not be quitting as a response to their employer attempting to keep them employed.

Re:Sounds like a perfect solution. (1)

asoukup (35436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953252)

Probably more like this.....

10,000,000 readers generating no direct revenue but generating some amount of ad revenue
or
10,000 readers generating $250/year each with almost zero ad revenue because the number of readers is too small.

Don't know how the ad revenue waxes and wanes in this scenario.

Do they prefer the alternative? (3, Insightful)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952664)

Reporters may leave if their newspaper starts charging for content, yes. However, I think a few more reporters might leave if the newspaper goes bankrupt. People aren't buying newspapers any more. They may not want to pay for online content now, but that's mostly because the 'free' online content is being subsidized by papers which are rather quickly going out of business. As that happens, the remaining papers will end up charging for online content (since how else will they make any money) and people will either pay for it (because there's no other option for getting good journalism) or not pay for it (because they'd rather read free blogosphere crap). But if there's one thing I'll lay odds on, it's that expensive content (like good journalism) isn't going to be available for free. TANSTAAFL, you know.

Re:Do they prefer the alternative? (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954534)

The problem is the Internet mentality that it all should be free.

Of course, people that are getting paid for their text aren't going to continue to be paid forever when nobody is paying to read their output - unless the Government is subsidising journalism and and opinion columnists. So that type of content is just going to disappear. Probably not quietly.

So what can be done about it? Well, I'd guess that in 50 or 70 years people will finally be fed up with "free" and be ready to pay for anything as long as it is better than what they see they can get for free. But it is going to take a while to get "free" out of everyone's system. We are experiencing the result of a generation raised on "free" and they still see what is left lying around from people that get paid.

When that finally disappears, we will be able to judge the quality of free. My guess is there will still be 1970s music being played because it was produced for lots of money. The 2020 music scene (all free, nobody paying for anything) will be stunningly awful.

Why can they not lower prices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29952706)

Holy tardmagnetism batman, why are they charging $5 a week!! That is almost as much or more than most people pay for the goddamn internet each month (most being on dialup or dsl that is). Are they flaming umbrella eaters? Also, it costs more to deliver and print a newspaper than it does to host web content, they don't seem to be factoring that into the savings. It looks to me as they are trying to charge real-life newspaper delivery charges ($0.70/day) on delivering web content. Now if they charge like $4 or $5 a month you might do it right for premium news content written by professional writers. Most wouldn't be it would get a lot more attention than trying to rape someone for $5 a week.

Heck Netflix delivers on the rather expensive business of renting videos (having to pay royalties to MPAA and buy/package/deliver discs constantly, not to mention paying developers/IT to manage a more complicated website than a news site) and their cheapest plan is $5/month. Then again, they don't have to produce the movies we see, so their costs aren't high in that regard though they are passing the costs the movie industry sees fit onto us. I'm guessing they have very narrow profit margins, but they manage to stay successful and relevant unlike newspapers.

Right now they make some advertising cash off the websites which probably accounts for quite a bit of money but far from the amount they would need to maintain salaries they are used to based on what they've made in the past. However, charging causes viewership to go down which will impact the amount made off of advertising. Maybe this $5/week is considered to be the point at which the subscriptions would make more than the advertising and any less than that would scare away enough readers as to make free more lucrative. But, my guess is that they just wanted to charge as much as they do for real-life delivery because they don't know how to approach the internet because they're geriatric old farts.

What is more, they charge $0.50 if you get it from the news stand, which would only be $2.50 a week not including overcharging us on Sunday for around $2.00 an issue. Assuming six Sundays around $12.00 + $10 worth of daily issues, that's $22 a month if you buy from news stands. However, these brilliant leaders of industry are going to charge you $20/mo to view it on the internet? Hilarious.

I remember just a decade ago, they were only charging a 25 cents for a paper, the increase to double that seems to be arbitrary and unnecessary to me. It looks like greed pure and simple, and when the internet came around they essentially shot themselves in the foot because it looks way cheaper to not pay for news at all now. Of course, free will always be more appealing, but 25 cents was low enough to make newspaper content desirable. Therefore, if they want 90% (20 / 22) of what they would realistically charge in real life, which I posit should be $7 rounded (0.25 * 30, assuming we would not be charged any differently for Sunday papers) a month not $22, then they would charge about 21 cents a day instead. That comes out to $1.47 a week, starting to look a little more realistic? Like, something you wouldn't mind paying if you knew the content was backed by quality journalism?

It is pretty obvious they didn't give much thought to any of this. I've given it far more time in a /. comment, lolwaffles.

From TFA; on artificial intelligence: (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952800)

A machine that will be proud of us

We can never connect AI to the internet...

Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (2, Interesting)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29952880)

I used to read Thomas Friedman's oped column regularly until the NY Times put him behind their paywall. Eventually they dropped the paywall but by then I was too late. I just didn't care that much any more. The few times I did pick up his column I realized that except for his columns on the middle east (his field of expertise) there wasn't much that he had to say that was incredibly relevant. I'm probably one of the few people that found his book, "the World is Flat" to be incredibly uninsightful.

The paywall made me realize that for the most part there isn't much separating such oped columns from the average blogger. However had the NY Times not put up the paywall I probably would still be reading their oped columns regularly.

Re:Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (1, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953164)

There is rich critical commentary on the hilariousness of that book available on the internet. One of my favorites is this one:

http://rolocroz.com/junk/friedman.html [rolocroz.com]

Quoting a bit:

by the end--and I'm not joking here--we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce.

Re:Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953214)

I think that train of thought could apply to many things. I used to be an avid Daily Show & Colbert viewer. Then I had no regular access to TV for an extended period of time. When I finally had the opportunity again and the free time I found I just didn't care for it (now) -- I'd rather "tivo" The Late Late Show (Craig Ferguson).

Re:Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953324)

I'm probably one of the few people that found his book, "the World is Flat" to be incredibly uninsightful.

You probably read the first edition. Try one of the later ones; he adds a hundred pages or so each time he revises it. For clarity, you understand.

Re:Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955974)

Great. More drivel. His book, "From Beirut to Jerusalem" was incredible. "The World is Flat" is hundreds of pages of duh. Except for the part where he's interviewing Steve Ballmer and Ballmer is not quite claiming to have invented the internet, but claiming that MS built the tools the fundamentally drive e-commerce. Unbelievable.

Re:Used to read NY Times oped before paywall (1)

massysett (910130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957014)

I'm probably one of the few people that found his book, "the World is Flat" to be incredibly uninsightful.

Nah. I didn't even finish it. He kept repeating himself over and over. He had enough material for a NYT Magazine article, but definitely not for a book.

Newsday site (1)

rand0mbits (1085639) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953440)

Just went to check out the Newsday site. It's so ugly and hard on the eyes that I'm not sure I'd visit it if they paid me for it.

pay for news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29953770)

Never!

Have you SEEN the Newsday site? (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954318)

You should take a look at this abomination of a news website [newsday.com] . It's laughable to think that ANYONE in their right mind would pay for access to such a thing. Of course, it's owned by the same guys who own the Madison Square Garden NYC sports teams and a big suburban NYC cable company, so they think they know it all. javascript :: Newsday as NY Knicks :: Pro Basketball

I stopped going there earlier this year when they rolled out their new look. Seriously, they would have to pay me to visit that site on a regular basis.

Re:Have you SEEN the Newsday site? (1)

rjejr (921275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955628)

I'm a Newsday and Cablevision subscriber and the site does suck so I don't use it, and the paper quality itself has fallen off a cliff. I still can't believe they are seriously asking for $5 per week for this. I pay $2.50 per week for the paper to be delivered so I guess they decided to double that to come up with the price?

Too bad, it's not free (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29954404)

What people have come to expect on the Internet is "free". If it isn't free, there must be someone else offering it, legally or not, for free. And the modern Internet user is going to take it from where it is offered for free.

That pretty much means that newspaper classified ads aren't going to work - people just go to Craigslist. It means that selling music online isn't going to work, because it is all out there for free, unless you need Apple to hold your hand and guide you through the process of filling up your iPod.

It certainly means that news, opinion and commentary aren't going to work if you want people to pay for them.

Unfortunately, if you are someone that was getting paid to produce textual material as news, opinion or commentary, you probably aren't going to get paid to do that any longer. There just isn't any call for someone to get paid to do something that will generate zero revenue. Similarly, with aggregation and Google, nobody needs to know where the original text came from, so you can't count on ad revenue supporting a site that in turn supports the writer. The original site can't control the material any longer. Google might tell you where it came from (not as a link, but just text) but what other sites are also copying the content and not attributing it.

Re:Too bad, it's not free (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955444)

Thing is, Google News doesn't reproduce the text. They reproduce a leader, maybe the first sentence or two, and the article is a link back to the original site. So if your advertising is on the page with the article, Google News takes exactly zero away from your advertising revenue because anyone wanting to read your article has to read your page. The only way you have a problem is if your advertising depends on the reader following navigation from your home page, and that's just a stupid way to do things in the first place because the first rule of the Web is that you can't control where users come from. It's not even aggregators, if I personally want to point a friend at your story I'm not going to give them your home page and detailed instructions for how to navigate to the story, I'm going to send them the link to the story itself from my browser's URL bar, and if you're a sensible writer you don't want to make it difficult for people to tell other people about your story.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955706)

Seems the journalists in question want the best of both worlds: they want the steady and considerable income that comes with working for a major newspaper, but on the other hand they don't want to be involved with earning any of the revenue that makes that income possible. Eventually they're going to have to choose one or the other (or the market will make the choice for them).

I'm looking forward at charging Friedman (1)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29955882)

Every time he writes about me, even if I am in a car accidents or similar. I want to have a piece of his income.

They did listen to their contributors... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29957112)

I actually let Paul Krugman know that the NY Times had put his stuff behind a paywall (this was about six years ago when the Times tried to do this for a couple of years) via his Princeton email. I let him know I'd probably have to stop reading his columns because the subscription to the Times website wasn't worth it to me (I wasn't going to pay good money to read idiots like Friedman or Brooks) and, because of that, I wouldn't have access. He wrote back to me and seemed genuinely unaware that this was happening, although that's not surprising - he just sent his columns in, got paid, and assumed that the Times knew what it was doing in distributing his material. This is something that authors need to look at a lot more closely these days. And, BTW, Krugman is a really gracious and forthcoming guy. He took the time to answer email from a random stranger and engaged in a couple of back and forth messages about the issue. I was impressed with the guy's candor and responsiveness.

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