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Who Will Control the Cost of the NYT On Digital Readers?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the hand-of-fate dept.

The Almighty Buck 217

RobotRunAmok writes "Ryan Tate, at Gawker, describes the 'heated turf war' waging at the New York Times. The print and digital divisions have differing views over how much a subscription to the Gray Lady (iPad edition) should cost. The print troops believe $20-$30 monthly is the proper price point (fearing that setting the mark any lower will jeopardize print distribution), while the digital soldiers are digging in their heels at $10 a month. The Kindle version is already managed by the Print Army, so don't count on logic necessarily driving any decisions here. It's complicated: the Web version of the paper is still free through 2011, and the computer 'Times Reader' has already been released and priced at $14.95 monthly."

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217 comments

Watch that price, NYT (5, Interesting)

yog (19073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198044)

I think the real question should be, how much should a paid subscription cost?

As a long time subscriber to online.wsj.com, the online version of the Wall Street Journal, I have watched my online subscription cost float up from around $75 promotional price to $155 on the latest bill. (I have a query in to customer support to find out why they were advertising a combined print + online deal for only $135 a month or two ago, yet they're sticking it to me.) Thus far, I have tolerated this annual fee in exchange for excellent content.

Once an online subscription exceeds about $25/year, you would expect it to have some substantial and unique value that compels you to pay. The WSJ has a tremendous volume of financial and business content, plus provocative commentary, active talk-backs, and broad news coverage. I can't get through it in a day, certainly not in 30 minutes over coffee at 7am, and tend to cherry-pick the interesting titles during little breaks throughout the day (and, now, on the bus/bathroom/in bed using a Nexus One android phone).

Unlike the WSJ, which is truly a national/international content provider, the NY Times has a regional quality to it that reflects its liberal, middle-to-upper class urban New York readership. Furthermore, all of the national and international news can be obtained from AP, Reuters, and BBC websites for free. Will someone in Boston, Toronto, Fresno, or Omaha feel as compelled to spend $25/month (i.e., $300/year) for such content?

My recommendation to the New York Times is to keep the price low initially, then start to add premium features (more video, interactive stuff, discounted 3rd party deals, etc.) for subscribers only and try to build up your paid online readership. If you start out by gouging people who are used to a free NY Times online, most of them will simply jump ship to one of the dozens of other, free news services available. Hubris will get you nowhere.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (4, Interesting)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198156)

The way I see it is on one hand you're paying for ONE news source and on the other hand you can go to Google News and at a glance see news from MULTIPLE news sources both locally and around the word.

These days we also get a lot of great personal accounts/coverage from normal people in their blogs, podcasts, websites, twitter, etc.

A couple months ago I saw a fire near my apartment. I search the name of the street on Twitter and there were tons of tweets describing what was going on with pictures, warning people that the street was closed, the air was thick with smoke and to steer clear. It wasn't until hours later during their 6pm evening news that the news corps reported on it.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198250)

A good newspaper should be doing that for you. Newspapers are no longer about delivering 'breaking news'. The 24/7 news cycle has ended that. The typical readership of a quality newspaper know what happened in the world yesterday. They want to know why it happened and what the consequences might be.

Today newspapers should be about the insightful commentary, bringing together of sources and unique investigative journalism. Of course these are also the most expensive parts, so have been targeted for cuts by many newspapers.

The problem the print division at the NYT faces is that the cost per printed copy is directly dependent on subscription volume. So if folk stop taking the paper copy, they cost to produce it increases - you have all the same costs for typesetting and running a print works, you just saved some cents worth of paper and a blob of ink.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (0)

llvllatrix (839969) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198370)

Or you can just subscribe to the blogs of your favorite analysts :)

Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional news I've read in the past (National Post, The Economist) is very alarmist and often irrational, without much actual content. I've had to resort to publications from the federal reserve, blogs from economists, and my own education for anything descent.

I'd also still rank Slashdot as a source for fairly reliable content; a lot of the fluff gets filtered out.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (0, Troll)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198650)

I've had to resort to publications from the federal reserve, blogs from economists, and my own education for anything descent.

If you truly want anything decent, I'd rely the education of others.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (2, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199256)

If you truly want anything decent, I'd rely the education of others.

And you can always rely on Muphry's law.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198608)

>>>Today newspapers should be about the insightful commentary, bringing together of sources and unique investigative journalism.

I consider folks like Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Olberman, and so on to be filling those roles...... and they are available free-of-charge via AM radio or Cable tv. It's one of the reasons I don't buy the paper - why pay for stuff I can get free via my audio or video?

Re:Watch that price, NYT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199380)

That's why people think your an idiot.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199470)

Wait....you consider those guys insightful? I weep for our future.....

Re:Watch that price, NYT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199510)

I'm not saying you are an idiot... But isn't it interesting that you sound just like one? Coincidence? I weep for your intelligence.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (4, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199012)

...The typical readership of a quality newspaper know what happened in the world yesterday. They want to know why it happened and what the consequences might be.

In this twitterific RSS-enabled environment feeding an entire generation of instant-gratification kids (uh, talking about 12 - 24 year-olds), who also seem to be "suffering" from ADD/ADHD, just how long do you think the type of reader profile YOU speak of is going to be around? You can barely run certain types of businesses today on "yesterdays" news.

Sorry, but print is dying. There's a reason that news is on 24/7, because the entire world is now used to "instant" news, and if you're not fresh as of 24 seconds ago, you are an aging dinosaur. The only way you're going to stay alive is with online dynamic content, which could even make the eBook reader versions obselete in a few years, unless the e-content is dynamically updated.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution is clueless (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199160)

too many of their articles encourage you to go online to view even more in depth content, content that apparently is free and if not bugmenot can do it (they don't charge for it)

Another reason the print side is more costly, more union involvement at each stage. I am curious how they transition to digital without maintaining the legacy costs

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198260)

I view it like this:

- The online version, assuming it contains the same full content, should be priced the SAME as the paper edition. That seems logical to me, because producing the content still requires the same amount of workers, and that cost must be compensated. ----- If you buy both print and online versions, then there should be a discount, just the same as my phone/DSL bundle is discounted.

A year subscription to New York Times in paper format is $30/month, therefore I'd charge the same for the online version. If people subscribed to both, I'd give them a 75% discount - $30 + $7.50 == $37.50 for the bundle. Simple.

And yes I know about the argument "online does not need to be delivered", which is true, but MOST of the cost of running a paper comes from reporters' wages, not a few dollar spent on gas, so the savings is minimal.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198770)

And yes I know about the argument "online does not need to be delivered", which is true, but MOST of the cost of running a paper comes from reporters' wages, not a few dollar spent on gas, so the savings is minimal.

And most of the revenue from newspapers comes from advertising. The price of a physical copy is meant to offset the actual cost of the delivery mechanism as opposed to generating profit (and in many cases the cost to print and distribute is more than the revenue generated by the cover price, but they take the hit to increase circulation and boost advertising revenues). Therefore it's entirely reasonable to ask for a discount for a delivery mechanism which costs next to nothing, so long as they're still selling advertising space.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198956)

>>>Therefore it's entirely reasonable to ask for a discount for a delivery mechanism which costs next to nothing, so long as they're still selling advertising space.
>>>

Okay. Delivery costs (gasoline) are about 1% of the print paper's subscription fee. So instead of paying $30, you'll pay $30 times 0.99 == $29.70 for online. Happy? :-)

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199498)

You forget the presses, the ink, the paper, the work done to typeset the paper, where the articles are placed, etc. etc. Gasoline is not the only cost that they have. It's probably the least expensive part of getting a paper printed and delivered, minus the actual costs to get the content, which would be the same online or on paper.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199396)

It can run about $7,500 to put a quarter of the screen banner up on a section front page on the NYTimes.com for a month. A comparable ad in the paper would cost you over a hundred thousand dollars.

There is a reason why the print side of things has ten times the revenue on one-tenth the readership. In this case, ad revenue wouldn't matter a darn compared to subscription fees.

Note: Posting from a phone, so no links. But the NY Times is not shy about posting their financials.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198314)

The way I see it is on one hand you're paying for ONE news source and on the other hand you can go to Google News and at a glance see news from MULTIPLE news sources both locally and around the word.

But if all local newspapers controlled by News Corporation and other major newspaper holding companies start charging, all you'll see on English-language Google News are BBC, AP, and Reuters.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198592)

that's not a problem. For local news, you can get it from local websites, for US national news, there is the BBC. Its coverage of our news is better than the nightly news.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198794)

Let's wait and see how many newspapers successfully follow that model - especially considering the ones who take the plunge and go first will suddenly lose all the influx of traffic/advertising revenue that Google was previously sending their way. If they're big players they might survive, otherwise there's a good chance they'll quickly disappear and someone else will step up to offer free news in their place.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198896)

True but Google has this tendency to link to commentary and opinion blogs in their "news" section, as if. Don't get me wrong, journalism has largely become commentary but I wish Google did what newspapers used to do and put such under a heading that identified them as so.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198958)

The way I see it is on one hand you're paying for ONE news source and on the other hand you can go to Google News and at a glance see news from MULTIPLE news sources both locally and around the word.

These days we also get a lot of great personal accounts/coverage from normal people in their blogs, podcasts, websites, twitter, etc.

A couple months ago I saw a fire near my apartment. I search the name of the street on Twitter and there were tons of tweets describing what was going on with pictures, warning people that the street was closed, the air was thick with smoke and to steer clear. It wasn't until hours later during their 6pm evening news that the news corps reported on it.

Google News and Twitter are great sources for breaking news, and I use it for that, but it's inherently sensationalist. The topics that are the most talked about get put on the Google News page, not the best or most relevant. You're just as likely to see an article about Tiger Woods as you are about Iran's enrichment program, but any of the in-depth, after-the-fact commentary or articles about issues that for whatever reason didn't catch the public eye are left out.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (0)

zolltron (863074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199296)

Google news is no substitute for a good newspaper. First, a good newspaper should do the aggregation for you, and so should duplicate what google's doing. Second, a *good* newspaper should provide a balanced, fact checked commentary on the news events. The problem with google news is that they include every major news source without preference for reliability.

If the NYT and Fox News are covering the same story, I want to read the NYT coverage and not Fox News. I don't trust FN, and I do trust NYT (at least I trust them more).

Re:Watch that price, NYT (0, Offtopic)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198192)

it's = "it is"; its = possessive. E.g., it's flapping its wings.

I can appreciate that when we wrote with feather quills, bottles of ink, and blotting paper -- a rather laborious process -- any reason for putting less ink on the page was a good one.

You might hear yourself saying "they're", "it's", and "we're" when you are saying "they are","it is", and "we are"; but spoken language != written language.

We are well beyond the need to save ink. When you write, just write "they are", "it is", and "we are" and save the apostrophes for things like "it is Bill's cat." Especially if you can't ever seem to get it right.

Yes, it's off topic. No, it's not a flame. Just a non sequitur response prompted by his sig. Mod me down if you must.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1, Funny)

swilver (617741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198432)

I must have missed what is wrong with that sig. Oh.. and offtopic.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198540)

As for my own writing (which, admittedly, could use some serious improvement) I like using "they're" instead of "they are" for two reasons:

1. It flows smoother
2. It sounds closer to how I would speak with someone face to face. I try to write articles on my website as if I'm talking to the reader, instead of having them read what I have written.

In a formal or legal document, I agree..."they are" is more appropriate. However, when it comes to discussion (be it in person or on a forum like Slashdot), striking a more conversational tone is preferable.

At least for me.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198864)

Of course, none of your examples explain what to do in the case of the possessive "its", and since the point of the sig is to help people understand the different between "its" and "it's", that would seem to be a noteworthy omission. Instead of saying, "look at its flameworthy post", I guess you would have us say "look at the flameworthy post of it"? That doesn't (sorry, does not) exactly flow.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198920)

We are well beyond the need to save ink.

Yes, because the purpose of contractions is solely to save ink, thus elegantly explaining their ubiquity in spoken language...

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198992)

Is that you, Data?

Especially if you can't ever seem to get it right.

Aha, an imposter!

Re:Watch that price, NYT (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198298)

To me? I dont think the NYT is worth more than $4.99 a month. and that is only if it's available on ANY of my readers not just a blessed one they want me to have.

Honestly, they have to compete with every other source of news on the net, Many free, some I pay for. and honestly the "lyfestyle" and other sections I really dont care about so they have a zero value to me. AND not being a New York resident it has even lower value to me as it's only a source for national news which I can get myself elsewhere. Google,CNN,Yahoo and others give me a ton of that for free. So outside of NY the NYT has even a lower value, most people I know think my $4.99 is way too much.

OT: a la carte pricing (3, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199124)

the "lyfestyle" and other sections I really dont care about so they have a zero value to me

This bundling is a problem in other places as well... I am this close (fingers 3mm apart) to canceling ALL of my cable TV, because the prices keeps going up - the reason "channels such as CNN and ESPN are raising their rates."

Fine, can I get a package with Discovery, History, and a few others, WITHOUT CNN and ESPN? no.

Broadcasters are starting to have many of the same issues The Press is having.

Re:OT: a la carte pricing (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199412)

Actually I have canceled Cable-TV. It's worthless to me and my wife. If we want to watch TV we turn on the TV and tune in one of the local ATSC channels. If there is a specific show, mythbusters for example, I simply retrieve it from a friends house where I set them up a mythtv box. we add what few shows we like to it and make them transcode to avi on a rss feed for me. when we go over there I simply grab the files on my netbook and we are good to go.

I get the free tv shows without the risk of torrenting them and having the Content police come and kill us, my friend get's a high end DVR built for him.

works great. I'd LOVE to be able to subscribe to Mythbusters as a tv show for $2.00 a month whe nthere are new episodes (maybe $12.00 a year total cost as they make very few episodes anymore) but they will not do that. Discovery will not sell me a non drm file I can play anywhere.

so my only choices are record at friends house, or download a torrent. either way I'm not spending $100.00 a month to stream utter crap into my home for the 3 tv shows I have any interest in.

Re:Watch that price, NYT (1)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199344)

I think the real question should be, how much should a paid subscription cost?

...not necessarily directed at the NYTimes
Until they start publishing unopinionated news, I'd suggest free. I can get all the talking heads, left and right, on the Sunday morning shows for that price now.

rant...
I'm tired of the constant bias, and the bullshit entertainment "news". Seriously, if I wanted to see that, I'd tune into the entertainment channel...sorry, I don't give a shit about Tiger Woods flings, or any such nonsense. Give us the real news, and put it into the proper perspective instead of hyping everything. Haven't heard much about bird flu (263 deaths), SARS (774 deaths), or swine flu (14,286 deaths) lately, have we? They all got the big scary "pandemic" word attached to them. Now, I don't want to marginalize anyone's lost relatives here, only put it in perspective. According to wikipedia, 1,200,000 people died in car accidents in 2004...nearly 84 times the fatalities resulting from the worst "pandemic". Hell, we lose over 500,000 to cancer every year in the U.S. Should people go get their shots?...certainly, but let's not cause a god damn panic. The systemic problem with the media these days, is that they're all more concerned with their advertising revenue than they are with doing their jobs.
Off my soapbox

$10 for crap, or $20-$30 for crap? Does it matter? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198080)

Does it really matter? The price doesn't change the fact that the NYT's journalism is basically shit most of the time, even though they are one of the most "respect" papers in the US.

Their coverage of the run-up to the Iraqi War was abysmal, for instance. It was pretty clear then that they should have done their journalistic duty and printed much more about how those pushing for war were just plain wrong. And now we know that they basically just repeated the lies and bullshit spewed by various Republican and Democrat politicians during that time period.

It's not a "Democrats vs. Republicans" or "left vs. right" situation, either. They should be tearing Obama and the Democrats several new assholes for their handling of Wall Street, Afghanistan and other issues. But for whatever reason, they don't, or if they try to it's quite feebly done.

The NYT, were it actually concerned with journalism, would themselves be ripping into Wall Street and corporate America. But then again, I suppose they can't, because they seem more concerned with advertising revenue over realistic and quality reporting.

Regardless of what they charge, I'm not going to pay any money for their content when they don't ask the hard-hitting questions of politicians and corporations, and do the real investigative journalism that's worthy of money.

I will (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198082)

And if they keep failing to deliver my dead tree version the price will be zero.

Printed newspapers is a shrinking segment (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198084)

Whether the digital edition affects sales of the print edition is beside the point. Online news is going to affect the sales of the print edition anyway. the question is whether the NYT wants a segment of that or not.

Digital media is distruptive technology. If the NYT doesn't clobber their print sales someone else is going to do the job for them.

Re:Printed newspapers is a shrinking segment (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198230)

Yes, but the people working for (and in charge of) the print part of the business are not the same as those involved with the digital part. Each department is no doubt charged with maximising profit from their department, and with maximising the profit of the organisation as a whole.

It's an unusual person who would say "You know what I think? I think my department is antiquated and should be phased out; if you want to succeed, your best chance is to fire me and all my employees" - especially when their department is still making money, and at one point was the *only* department.

That doesn't excuse the next person up the chain from not seeing that, of course.

Re:Printed newspapers is a shrinking segment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199364)

The prices should be much lower than print, distribution cost are much lower. Make the price $5.00 and volume will make up the difference in no time. Not that a single person at the Time as a clue about how economics actually work.

Like everything else related to their God, money. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198088)

The Jews will.

Why oh why could the holocaust crocodile tear fairy tale not be real? For that matter why do so many retarded chimpanzees mistaken for humans so graciously provide their tongue for their Jew masters to use as toilet paper? Must be house niggeritis or maybe just too stupid to realize they are slaves with chains of debt while fooled into fervent worship of pieces of paper with money or just simple numbers in a databse.

Fools.

Let the NYT go out of business (-1, Flamebait)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198112)

The "newspaper of record"? What bs.

Re:Let the NYT go out of business (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198154)

I think they mean "record" as in "phonograph". Sure, a small minority still love vinyl but everyone else has moved on.

Re:Let the NYT go out of business (1, Troll)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198480)

I think they mean "record" as in "silly, pompous, official organ of the establishment's conventional wisdom and the status quo". And: Did you get a whiff of the latest stink of scandal from the "All the news that's fit to print" outfit today? Yet another NYT plagiarism scandal. [slate.com]

Egon said it best (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198114)

Print is dead.

Re:Egon said it best (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198420)

Of course it is, it's bad for the environment (paper, energy for print, energy to transport it, waste), it's unwieldy (heavier and bigger than say an iPad or Kindle) and it's inconvenient (yet another thing to keep in your hands or suitcase).

I don't know why papers are not concentrating on their digital versions. If they can make a paper for $1.50/day in real paper including all the overhead of actual printing and distribution while still maintaining an online version, the cost for just the online version should be a fraction of that cost. That fraction most definitely can be offset by some Google Ads.

Re:Egon said it best (1)

Spyware23 (1260322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198930)

That fraction most definitely can be offset by some Google Ads.

A rather twisted example. Lets try to not give the evil monopolies more power, even when discussing a mere hypothetical.

Economics 102 (3, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198136)

Who Will Control the Cost of the NYT On Digital Readers?

The consumer will. The consumer ultimately determines the value of any item sold.

Re:Economics 102 (4, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198224)

>"The consumer will. The consumer ultimately determines the value of any item sold."

How's that working out for you with Comcast and Shell Oil, by the way? They both accepted it when you put your foot down, did they?

Re:Economics 102.5 (1, Insightful)

number6x (626555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198332)

An even better example would be natural gas prices. Remember when Enron got caught in its scheme to artificially inflate natural gas prices? They had shell companies bidding and selling to each other driving the price up by creating artificial demand.

Of course when the scheme was uncovered the price of natural gas should have dropped down to the consumer set price...

It didn't drop at all. The price is at the still artificial high. The ultimate consumer of the product doesn't have the power to influence the local monopoly enough to drive the price down.

The people still in the gas business are splitting the revenues from the mark up.

Some free market huh?

Re:Economics 102.5 (1)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198382)

If the price is higher than the value it presents to the consumer, why would the consumer buy it? Are they stupid?

Re:Economics 102.5 (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198482)

It's the closest homeowner equivalent of vendor lock-in. If I have a natural gas oven or water heater, the price of not buying natural gas is high even if natural gas is overpriced relative to electricity or other forms of energy.

Re:Economics 102.5 (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198556)

It takes a little bit to switch providers. You need to figure out how you're going to pay for your electric water heater and furnace\space heaters. If people decide the cost of changing doesn't pay for itself through the reduced cost of energy, many will wait until they have no choice but to replace the unit, and switch then.

Re:Economics 102.5 (1)

NoisySplatter (847631) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198666)

Yes.

Re:Economics 102.5 (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198668)

Yeah, why would the consumer want to cook? Or heat their house? Or want hot water?

Silly consumers, buying overpriced necessities from a monopoly! They should just pay $5000 and convert all their appliances over to run on energy provided by the local electric grid.

Oh, wait, that's usually another monopoly....

Nonsense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199072)

It didn't drop at all. The price is at the still artificial high.

That statement is factually untrue. [doe.gov]

Gas prices have been set by the real market. Even in California after Enron.

Re:Economics 102.5 (1)

cartzworth (709639) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199284)

Can you explain how a newspaper with plenty of competition is anything like a utility? News is highly competitive with blogs and internet sites in the market places. The parent's mention of Comcast (a monopoly with high distribution & infrastructure costs) and Shell (sells a very limited-supply good, oil, not information like newspapers do) are false comparisons.

Re:Economics 102 (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198644)

Different markets.

NYT has competition. There are still plenty of news sources out there, even if you're in the market for local news in New York City. If they set their price too high, people will choose others. They aren't a monopoly.

Comcast is a monopoly, at least in my area. If Comcast sets their price too high, I could still choose others, but no one else is authorized to use the cheapest means to reach my house (coaxial cable), so it's not competition in any real sense. I can't go to anyone else and get wired Internet for any price, and wireless options are either slower or more expensive (and usually both). The only other possible competitor is our somewhat-new local phone company (Fairpoint) and they are imploding at the moment, so I don't expect to see any new service offerings from them between now and their Chapter 7 declaration, which many of us are expecting any month now.

Re:Economics 102 (1)

rhaacke (1563489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198686)

I'm not aware of anyone putting their foot down anywhere except maybe on their gas pedals. Demand for gas is as high as it ever was and supplies are beginning to run out. Short term manipulation of prices is possible, but supply and demand always win out in the end.

Looking back at Economics 101... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199100)

Unfortunately, supply-and-demand economics models fall apart when you're talking about monopolies, which cable companies and energy companies are at the local level. It's most definitely not a competitive market. You can actually almost say that supply in this case is perfectly elastic, where one supplier sets the price and if people don't want to pay that price, then they don't buy it. Demand for essentials is fairly inelastic, especially in the short run, since basically consumers always will need gas, and they tend to need about as much today as they did yesterday.

Of course, in the long run when prices go up people will work to conserve gas a little bit to save money (y'know, turn down the thermostat, use less hot water in the shower, that kinda stuff) so demand goes down, but the gas companies still rake in huge profits because people can't COMPLETELY stop buying gas.

How quaint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198234)

The marketing department would like to have a word with you.

Re:Economics 102 (3, Funny)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198264)

The consumer ultimately determines the value of any item sold.

Sure they will, because corporations would never engage in anti-competitive actions to the detriment of the consumer.

Different Prices? (2, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198146)

Why would different digital versions cost different amounts of money?
What they should do is just charge $X for the stories, giving them all digital formats (as digital is relatively free to distribute). and then charge a little extra if they also want it in print, as that actually costs them money to print.

This way it looks like if you want NYT available to you in all formats you would need to fork over ($10-$30)+Free+$14.95+(whatever they charge for paper)= [lots of money]

Re:Different Prices? (2, Informative)

GSPride (763993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198498)

This way it looks like if you want NYT available to you in all formats you would need to fork over ($10-$30)+Free+$14.95+(whatever they charge for paper)= [lots of money]

If you're already a print subscriber, you get the Times Reader ($14.95 a month) free, as part of your subscription. I'm not sure if that carries over to their Kindle edition, or if it would carry over to the iPad edition.

Re:Different Prices? (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199204)

I'm not sure if that carries over to their Kindle edition

Subscriber-only services from newspaper websites do not apply to Kindle subscribers.

/only slightly bitter

Walled gardens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198178)

Doesn't anybody remember Compuserve? AOL? Do we have to wait for the Asians to free us from the walled gardens this time? I will not buy a "digital reader" until it is nothing but a computer under my control, with access to all media I choose to load on it.

Re:Walled gardens (2, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198584)

Look at some of the less expensive "no name" eReaders out there. They don't look quite as nice as the big boys (Sony, Amazon, B&N, etc), but you can put whatever you want on them. Here are some good options:

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=782&Tpk=ereader [newegg.com]

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16858653001 [newegg.com]

Re:Walled gardens (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199176)

Some of the no-names are slightly less than the Sony reader, but not to the extent that I'd be willing to chance it; I picked up the 189 Sony and have been quite happy with it, not as crisp as the kindle but nice and compact and it supports epub.

Re:Walled gardens (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199220)

So pretty much all of them. Nobody is locking you in to any particular book store. Just mount the reader as USB storage, copy your ebook to it and enjoy. Sony ereaders, the kindle, the nook, and pretty much all of the off-brand ereaders can do this.

Business model fundamentally broken (3, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198182)

Dear reader, consider

  1. The newspapers business model is based on information scarcity, which is increasingly difficult to enforce today; yet
  2. Newspapers are great to have because they offer better-researched, more compressive, and less biased news and commentary than random blogs. Compare the Huffington Post to the Washington Post.

The New York Times has chosen to cling to the conventional business model as long as possible. But there is a better way [nytimes.com] : recognize that newspapers are something special, and have worth in society as more than just another business. Endow them and let them self-finance.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198242)

Purleeease. There are no "less biased" news spigots, just ones that spurt your favourite flavour of Kool-Aid. Nobody ever made money by telling half their readers what they didn't want to hear.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198302)

Newspapers are great to have because they offer better-researched, more compressive, and less biased news and commentary than random blogs.

You haven't read the NY Times lately, have you?

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (0, Flamebait)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198684)

Compare the Huffington Post to the Washington Post.

One's a source of slanted news and shallow analysis which toes the Democratic Party line, and the other's a blog.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198866)

Endowments would enhance newspapers autonomy while shielding them from the economic forces that are now tearing them down.

And by "endowments" he really means government handouts by the Congress. I call "shenanigans" on that. I no more want to support your "hobby" of reading the paper than you want to pay an extra $100 in taxes to support my modeling hobby. I am sick-and-tired of people thinking they have a right to suck dollars out of MY paycheck, and just as I fund my modeling hobby with my OWN money, so too should you fund your newspaper hobby with YOUR own money.

As for the Jefferson quote, if it were updated to the present, he'd likely say that newspapers are as obsolete as concept as Kings or Nobility. He'd say that newspapers have been replaced with newer, better technologies called audio and video.

Jefferson would also comment, "I can lay my hand on no part of the Constitution which grants Congress the authority to give the People's money to a private business." On the contrary, the 10th Amendment specifically reserves such power to the individual State legislatures.

I'm sorry if this post sounded... um... aggressive. But I think it's time for this country to wakeup and realize we can no longer continue down this path of spend, spend, spend. See my signature.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198936)

Endowment with public funds? No way for me. The NYT might not be able to cope without public funds, but I can cope without the NYT.

Aside from squandering money on yet another useless cause, let us keep in mind that public endowments would allow government greater control over news sources.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

twitcher101 (1712418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199166)

Endowment with public funds? No way for me. The NYT might not be able to cope without public funds, but I can cope without the NYT. Aside from squandering money on yet another useless cause, let us keep in mind that public endowments would allow government greater control over news sources.

Yet in the case of government funding (such as BBC), the press is freer, better, and more critical of the government. Providing funding to a free press ensures the survival of the press. The private model we have in the US is all about attracting advertisers and not offending them. Subscriptions are irrelevant except as demographics for ad pricing. News has little to do with it. Public support is the ONLY option for a free press that represents the people rather than the government, the advertiser, the corporate interest that owns the outlet, etc.

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199408)

It's not a free press if the government (especially ours these days) controls the purse strings. The press would only become more of a hand puppet for the government. The unofficial propaganda wing.

As for funding the press, are you kidding me? Do we fund ALL newspapers, or just some of them? Which ones? How much more in taxes do you want to pay? Or should we just borrow more from China so we can have a "free press"? (Isn't that the ultimate in irony)?

Re:Business model fundamentally broken (4, Informative)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199038)

If only that were true - I don't know what the situation is in the US, but over here most of the newspapers switched from investigative journalism to barely informed gossip a couple of decades ago (facts are expensive, gossip is cheap, if you want to cut your costs you just boost the noise to signal ration some more). For them to now argue that they're better than blogs because of the high quality of their journalism is laughable.

Realistic pricing (1)

Kabloink (834009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198270)

They need to be realistic about the price. The majority of Americans won't be willing to pay..... oh, it's for the iPad. Double the price.

News For Ipad Readers (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198598)

Indeed! I fail to see why this article is talking about the Ipad. It's not an e-reader[*], and it's not even released. Yet already, the media are trying to spin it as being a generic term for e-readers? It was bad enough doing this with Iphone/phone, but at least there they waited until the thing was released.

When in years to come, Apple fans are predictably and tediously claiming that Apple "popularised" e-reading, remember it now: it's the media who are doing the popularising, over a device that doesn't exist, and even if it did, it wouldn't fit into that market.

[*] If someone is happy with LCD and short battery life, then any bog standard laptop, netbook or tablet out there is an "e-reader".

newspaper bussiness (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198348)

Like so many transitional businesses, newspapers have to ask what is their core concern. Do they want to collect and write news that will attract customers, or run printing presses and distribution routes.

While book publishers can claim that printing and distribution is not a major cost, newspapers cannot, and online newsreaders cannot subsidize the offline equipment. Given this anything over $100 a year is likely unreasonable. We do not have to a pay a human to deliver. We do not have to pay for a vehicle and gas. We do not have to pay for waste. The cut for the news agent does not have to be nearly as much.

There is an argument for artificially keeping the perceived value high, but there is also a value to having more customers for the advertisers.

Re:newspaper bussiness (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198688)

Digital readers are only seeing a small fraction of the advertising that the print reader sees. I know what you're going to say, that because digital readers are able to be tracked they are worth more, but for the local advertiser (I would guess most of the NYT print readers are still local), they don't have as much access to the tracking tools as a major ad agency (yet). The New York market may be an exception in this regard, but I'd be willing to bet that most of the print media advertisers still use the feedback of "run an ad today and check the register receipts tomorrow" method of tracking effectiveness.

Most ads you see in a local paper are placed by a "kitchen table" ad agency. They don't produce any copy, do any research beyond what the newspaper/media outlet tells them, and usually got their client list by stealing the Rolodex when they quit their ad sales job at the newspaper. These guys don't bother with doing any research as to effectiveness of ads, mostly because if they did, their client list would get smaller. They are great at playing businesses against each other, IE "Smith Ford is running a 10 spot a week rotator all year on KXYZ, so you need to be there too!" The last thing they want is someone to come along with a bunch of facts about who's looking at their client's ads, or worse, less inventory to sell. The Kindle's screen is mighty small when compared to a broadsheet paper. Less real estate means less inventory and higher rates that can't be justified in the current newspaper ad sales model.

This model works very well for the blogger though, and I could see a day when a newspaper is more like an agent for their reporters, getting sponsors for columnists. That's going to open up a whole new can of worms when it comes to impartial reporting, but that's really a somewhat recent phenomenon anyway.

Re:newspaper bussiness (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199108)

Digital readers are only seeing a small fraction of the advertising that the print reader sees.

Kindle newspaper subscriptions have NO ads, and no classified section either.

While it's a blessing as a reader, I imagine it chafes terribly for the newspaper's finance department, since I'm pretty sure they make most of their money selling ads.

Then again, the internet at large has conditioned me into thinking that "ads are for free things, and things I pay for have no ads." I would probably be VERY upset if ads started showing up in my Kindle newspapers.

Re:newspaper bussiness (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199356)

The problem they have is that they have (today) two major expenses: content and printing. They also have (today) three sources of revenue: print advertising, print subscription, and online advertising. As I understand it, the print subscription revenue basically pays the printing costs/delivery. The print advertising revenue pays for the collecting and writing of the news. The online advertising revenue is tiny, even though they are one of the most visited sites. So, as print goes away, they basically lose all of their revenue that is used to pay for content. People look at it (like you) and saying online is supporting print, but the reality is print supports online. As print goes away, online needs to pay for all the content, and that is likely to make a subscription cost more.

Gray Lady? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198402)

Call me old fashioned but I prefer my ladies to be flesh coloured. Gray? WTF is ths - necrophilia?

I know what it won't be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198438)

Supply and demand.

What the hell? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198492)

Why do the print guys have ANYTHING to say about what the digital version cost? Just lower print circulation down to bare minimum (i.e. enough for politicians and news stands), cut out home delivery, and go almost all digital, and then in 10-30 years cut out print circulation completely. It will lower their costs and increase their profit.

Why are newspapers so scared about giving up the most expensive part of their business?

Re:What the hell? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198702)

Because it's the only one they still know how to make money on?

Pay-for online access is still in its infancy in the news business, and free competition is rampant because papers have traditionally made their money off the print editions and offered online access as an also-ran. Now the paper subscriptions are dwindling and they are still losing money online, and based on the outrage you see every time one of the papers decides that they need to actually make money on their online offerings you can see why they might be afraid.

Stop letting fear drive decisions. (1)

phormalitize (1748504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198512)

The NYT is a great newspaper, but they are really shooting themselves in the foot here. They should be trying to come up with innovative ways to change their business model, like letting more writers work from home and reducing the office space they pay for (leasing out other parts they own, perhaps).

And I can't believe people have to point this out to a business, but seriously? Figure out your budget, determine how much money you need to keep yourselves afloat, and use that to determine the prices of digital subscriptions and other content.

A place in history. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198534)

Take the two biggest fucked up States in the Nation (New York and California) and then look at the publications from their cultural capitals (LA and New York) and ask ourselves do we really want to be like either of these groups of idiots, much less listen to what they have to say.

Now answer me this: Exactly how is the New York Times relavent anymore?

As far as the price goes, it will continue to work its way to zero as all media with little worth will. Who cares who controls the price, in the long run in it will not matter.

Multiplying profits (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198642)

They have profit from the printed version, even if the cost that the user pay includes the cost of paper/ink/infrastructure to make it, plus all the costs around distribution (that is a big percent of the total). The digital version and distribution have its costs too, but are close to nil for each reader. and the distribution goes really global and on time. And that, without taking into account the income of ads. Is a field where they have more potential readers, but more competition too. But still,they choose to raise their profits several times selling the digital version at a price comparable to the print version one, a move that could have some margin be done if you have the monopoly of something, but they dont have the monopoly of information in internet.

Oh, well... the digital world needs Darwin awards too.

You mean the NYT has a reader? (0, Flamebait)

xfea (219039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198718)

Why waist tike figuring out the price point for a subscription, you need demand first, and the NYT has NONE.

The NYT is near bankruptcy because nobody reads it any more.
It is biased liberal clap.

Just like the rest of the Obama praising ‘main stream’ liberal media.

Speaking of which, did you catch the CNN PRIME TIME RATINGS?

Friday night, 8-11 pm, CNN averaged 85,000 total viewers.
85,000 !

More people watch a test pattern at 3:00 AM on a local station in Duluth.

Let’s see, Fox News averages over 3,000,000 viewers?
LOL.

Bye Bye biased liberal media..
Bye Bye Obama.

Oh -

If you have to pay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198854)

If you have to pay for news, how good can it possibly be? The very act of the news agency profiting means they are driven to give you the news you want to hear in an effort to gain more subscriptions.

I'd much prefer to read news from free sources who are reporting with no vested interest in the story one way or the other.

offer a spread and see which one sells (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198888)

Have a range of offerings from a budget version to a gold-plated one. Set them at different prices (duh!) and see which is / are the most popular. Hardly rocket science. I don't see why they're so hung up on talking about *the* price for *the* publication.

Not so simple... (0, Redundant)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199090)

Most people seem to believe that because content is available in electronic form that it's somehow significantly cheaper to produce than in print. Having had some experience with the printing industry I can assure you that printing costs are relatively small compared to the overall cost of producing a newspaper or magazine. And in the case on NY Times or WSJ printing costs must be even cheaper given the relationship they've obviously established with their printers, assuming it isn't done in-house. Also keep in mind that some of the expense that may be spared by not printing physical copies inevitably goes to hosting and site maintenance.

And most publications live on advertising, almost more so than actual sales. Another department at my company does a lot of publication work and their clients have cut pages if they don't have a sufficient density of advertising versus content. There are obvious exceptions where they're just taking advantage and cramming the magazine excessively full of ads. Magazines like Maxim, Cosmopolitan and other such crap come to mind.

However, advertising on the web versus print are very different animals. While web ads can be more intrusive they're also easier to ignore. It's a lot easier to quantify their effectiveness. So it's difficult to charge what would be charged for print ads. Although in print, the publications actually have the work of having to place these ads and ensure there are no printing issues with them.

I had to deactivate ad block to get a sense for how they place advertising. I'm surprised by how few ads both NYTimes and WSJ run on their homepage. WSJ features a house ad at the time (advertising for themselves) and the first other ad appears pretty far down on the right which means if you're browsing on a netbook, for example, you probably wouldn't even see it. NYTimes has two small ads to either side of their header and then links to sponsored content here and there which most people may miss.

On the other hand, visit some of the news aggregate sites, anything from Gawker Media is a good example. Their sites feature more invasive advertising and they routinely do themed promotions, like one they're running now for some HBO show. So they're obviously getting a lot more bang for their buck even though they're producing far less content themselves. Of course the audience is a little different. I think most readers of WSJ and NYTimes would be pissed if suddenly they started covering their sites in advertising. Whereas the visitors to these other sites, who I'd say skew younger, tend to have lower standards and are more tolerant of this sort of thing. But of course, it enables them to continue offering content for free.

The work that NYTimes and WSJ does is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. So if charging for content doesn't work they need to embrace a more advertising-heavy model. And even then they may be forced to cut staff and content which will hurt the quality of their work and make them a little more generic.

I personally hate advertising. But I acknowledge that sometimes you have to pay a little more for quality. Unfortunately, on the internet people seem to believe that everything should be free. They're apparently oblivious to all the work that goes into creating this content.

Captain Obvious To The Rescue! (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199096)

Errrm, ... the market and the customers? ... Maybe? ... Just some random thought.

Print media still doesn't understand marginal cost (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199134)

When the cost of producing one more of your product is zero (e.g. on-line media), your pricing model has to change. You're not delivering a rag to peoples' doorsteps any more. If priced right, it's feasible to sell a billion more of your product. If priced wrong, you're overlooked and irrelevant. And bankrupt. That's mistake #1.

Of course, if you charge a truly nominal fee ($1-$5/month) you'll attract a far greater number of readers, and wield a great deal more influence politically and culturally. For a newspaper like the NYT, that's especially important if you want mindshare and if your columnists are to win Pulitzers. Increasing the number of eyes on your prize "gets out The Word".

Your price also needs to reflect the way people use your product. Unlike readers of snail newspapers, most net-denizens follow many media sources. But they scan them, not read them closely they way you read a newspaper. If you price the product like a newspaper, you force the consumer into *your* model of consumption, not theirs. That's mistake #2.

I'm a big fan of the NYT, and would happily subscribe to continue my access, but only at the right price. That said, I'd be hard pressed to pay for ANY daily newspaper these days, so a subscription fee over $60/year just ain't gonna happen. I'd go back to taking The Economist on paper and RSS the Reuters/AP websites instead.

Wake up, NYT. In the e-conomy you either publish MORE or you perish.

Clicked the wrong mod button. (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199350)

Please ignore.

Yeah, but, (1)

david@ecsd.com (45841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199378)

can you still do the crossword on it?

A billion dollars! (2, Funny)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199444)

Why not just charge a billion dollars? That way, they'd only need to sell one...

victorf (1)

victorf (540441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199476)

Beyond News, newspapers are delivery vehicles for advertisements. When you subscribe to any newspaper you are merely granting permission for the paper to send you their paid advertisements and possibly some new items. All newspapers should be free and the operating cost paid by the advertisers. Will the newspapers delivered to your Kindle be ad-free? Perhaps this sort of content should be treated in the same manner as your RSS feeds.

This is Slashdot (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199516)

No one here RTFA anyway, so what do we care about more articles on-line? They could charge $0 or $1000, but it's irrelevant for us! Not only do they want us to RTFA, they want to charge us, too!? STFU!
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