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Why Paywalls Are Good, But NYT's Is Flawed

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-like-sex-and-money dept.

The Media 256

GMGruman writes "The New York Times has taken a lot of heat for daring to start charging for its product. (What nerve! Imagine if grocery stores, phone companies, or even employees began charging for their wares!) But the problem, InfoWorld columnist Galen Gruman argues, is that its paywall is poorly designed. It encourages unpaid usage in massive quantities via Twitter and other feeds, undermining its very purpose, and it makes multiple-device mobile users — the growing population — pay more than anyone else. Both should be fixed. But the more troubling underlying issue is that the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing. In mobile, there's a chance to fix that, but in the way is not just the Web's free-loader mentality but the pricing of carriers for data transport that take a larger chunk out of people's budgets than they should, making it that much harder for people to pony up for the value of the content they get through those carriers' pipes."

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Hey check out this article... (3, Interesting)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588020)

Paywalls fail. [observer.com]

Re:Hey check out this article... (1)

stand (126023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588564)

Not sure why I should read an article written by someone who doesn't appear to know the difference between rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods [wikipedia.org] .

devalued content (2)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588022)

the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing

...or maybe we're just moving to an open content model (i.e., like FOSS). After all, information does want to be free.

Re:devalued content (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588050)

Reporters need to eat, though.

Re:devalued content (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588070)

Reporters need to eat, though.

The reporters I've known used to eat and drink an awful lot on their expense accounts.

Re:devalued content (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588132)

"Well, gentlemen, we either need to cut the expense accounts or throw up a paywall that will add more revenue."

Re:devalued content (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588504)

Or we could stop acting like pretentious twats and start writing decent articles, keep the content free, and watch the advertisers come flocking.

Re:devalued content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588720)

Which they won't have if nothing pays for the information?

Re:devalued content (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589346)

It's a win-win for the company and the reporter if they can file it as business expenses rather than increased salary, but it comes from the same income. No income and they can't eat on or off the job...

Re:devalued content (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588236)

I agree... Reporters need to eat. They need to get paid. And the quality of the reportage should not be degraded.

But this does not necessarily mean a paywall on the content.

When TV first came out, and long before cable companies, TV signals were received by antenna. The TV viewer was not billed for each show or channel viewed. In fact, the viewer was not billed at all. Yet the TV stations were profitable. Why is that? Because advertising was the main source of revenue.

Google's profits do not come primarily from its paid content, but from its advertising revenue streams.

What the NYT and others like them do not want is to move out of the comfort zone of the known business model, into the unknown one. From the known risks, to the unknown risks. But the biggest profits tend to be in the unknown risk... as are the biggest losses. But that's business!

Re:devalued content (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588370)

Yes, if only newspapers moved to an advertising supported model, everything would be great. But I understand they don't want to move in that direction since they've not been there before and who knows how that madness would turn out. They need your daily 50 cents to make the money.

Re:devalued content (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588542)

However, then the Reporters are wary of doing any reporting of anything negative of the sponsors.

Why Top Gear America will never gain traction like Top Gear UK (aside from the hosts sucking). They simply can't be critical of car companies in the same way without the car companies threatening to pull advertisements for the entire network.

Re:devalued content (4, Insightful)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588754)

...like Top Gear UK...

Which is, incidentally, the best TV show...[long pause]...in the world.

Sometimes I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and practice my Clarkson-in-the-world voice. Other people do that too, right?

Re:devalued content (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589136)

Is it sad that I read that in Clarkson's voice in my head?

Re:devalued content (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589218)

one of us, one of us!

Re:devalued content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589214)

I do!

Re:devalued content (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588818)

In fairness, TV's not that way everywhere; in England, and the rest of the UK for that matter, the gov't taxes you for owning an operable receiver, and that money goes to the BBC, which is why they get Doctor Who and you get 500 mostly-crappy SF shows cancelled after one seaaon because they couldn't sell advertising due to crappy ratings. (Yes, I'm aware of Outcasts. And pissed off...)

I'm not saying I like the tax model (I really dislike it strongly), but advertising's not the only option, and I dislike the shift from "selling content to viewers" to "selling eyeballs to advertisers" it engenders -- it incentivizes sensationalism in news and LCD pap in entertainment.

Re:devalued content (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589110)

Except that thus far, with the notable exception of Google no company has successfully made any significant amount of money off of advertising on the Internet. Yeah, You can probably make enough to cover the hosting costs on your blog from advertising. If you are popular (write well, provide useful content, update regularly, etc) you might even be able to make enough to cover your hosting costs and make a decent living off advertising. So far though, no one has found a formula that scales that to the New York Times level. It's pretty expensive to maintain a reporter in the white House Press Corps, a few guys in Iraq, a few more in Afghanistan, so more on standby to send to Japan or Libya, or where ever tomorrow's hot spot is.

Most media sites initially tried to make their money off of advertising, it's only the continued failure of that model that is driving them to try something new.

Re:devalued content (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589340)

I agree... Reporters need to eat. They need to get paid. And the quality of the reportage should not be degraded.

This last part is a big problem however: the quality of reportage in this country is abominable. I wouldn't pay one red cent to read articles in most American papers, because they're so biased and so poorly-written and researched. I'll glance at them for free, just so I can keep up with what's going on, but that's it. It wasn't like this years and years ago, back in the days of Walter Kronkite, but those days are long past.

Re:devalued content (3, Interesting)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588368)

You find me a decent reporter and I just may pay for a bit of news. The main stream is so full of sensationalist crap, it is no longer fit for purpose.
You read things like "Tokyo's drinking water is 10,000 times above normal radiation levels". Then you look into the numbers and see that the amount is so tiny, you'd have to drink yourself to death just to get a radioactive blip.
I say fuck em... It is not a pay wall. It is a wall to protect me from them.

If you have any data / news for the surrounding lands of the Fukushima power plant please let me know.

Re:devalued content (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588752)

I say fuck em... It is not a pay wall. It is a wall to protect me from them.

ciderbrew wins the thread.

Re:devalued content (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589196)

Yes, yes, lamestream media har har. But then you actually pick up the Sunday paper and find in-depth reporting that you would never have known otherwise, or the Book Review for top notch reviewing, or the New York Magazine for some of the best writing anywhere, or the Travel section to discover stuff you'd never see in Fodor's (which is outdated by the time you read it). Or the Arts section, for classical and theater news that are nearly impossible to find in any other non-niche periodical.

It's easy to see the main stream media as repetitive articles and bullshit, skewed commentary. But those of us who actually read the papers -- including the New York Times, WSJ, and even the more-dismal-by-the-second LA Times -- know that there's a great deal of value there that gets ignored when know-nothings talk about the "main stream media."

Re:devalued content (0)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588386)

We don't need 1000 reporters thanks to the internet. We need about 5.

So instead of compensating 1000 reporters 4,000,000 dollars- we need to compensate 5 about 200,000 to 400,000 dollars.

However, any number of reporters may decide to compete for those 5 slots- and so there is a race for the bottom on who will take the least money.

We don't have a market for reporters in every city now.

Re:devalued content (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588480)

Except that's not true. You can go quite far by dispatching reporters to the scene of breaking news, but you really need somebody at the capital every day that congress is in session and somebody just hanging out at the various town halls of major cities in case something happens. And that isn't cheap, but if you don't do it, you're going to miss important stories on a fairly regular basis.

Additionally, a lot of stories only come to light because of the competitive nature of the industry wanting to beat everybody else to the story so as to have something to rub their nose in.

Re:devalued content (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588950)

Exactly. Not every newsworthy item is quite as obvious as an island destroying tsunami. And even for big events, the best reporting is going to be done by people that have been on the ground, understand the issues, people, politics, geography and the myriad of other details that separates good reporting from Fox News. NYT does have articles like that. It does have reporters on the ground. And that costs lots of money.

I had actually planned on getting a subscription, but I rather doubt I will unless they change it. They're charging for an premium product, but not really delivering. The separate charges for different devices is incredibly stupid. I rather suspect (since they have yet to mention it) that it will contain advertising. And I'm sorry, the NYT has pretty annoying stop action/ overly gaudy / overly large / Flash ads (when I turn off ad block, that is). And NYT breaks every browser that I've ever used (albeit with NoScript and Adblock).

Maybe they will see the light, but I rather doubt it. I suspect that they will call it a success for a while then either collapse or change something.

Re:devalued content (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588668)

Ad revenue seems to work well for google....

Re:devalued content (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588100)

And yet every fucking jackass on the planet has to plaster their shitty little project sites or even personal blogs with ads of all sorts. Nobody does anything for kicks anymore or just to provide a service (like BBS operators did when I was a kid). Now, even every little shitty blogger blog about your collection of frogs has to have ads on it, just in case you can monetize it into a couple nickels a year.

Re:devalued content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588274)

Doesn't some of those "free" blog sites put ads on "your" page to pay for the "free" service?

Nobody does anything for kicks anymore or just to provide a service (like BBS operators did when I was a kid).

BBS? So, you had a computer connected to a modem that received calls: calls paid for by the BBS user. So, BBS host paid for the machines and modem and the user paid for the call (i.e. all the bandwidth). With Internet, the host is paying for the machines and part of the bandwidth.

The host has taken on more of the costs.

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting off of your lawn....

Re:devalued content (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588412)

Maintaining a BBS was not easy. The games costed money, you were paying for an additional line to the house (at least one)... people (normal people) don't even pay for their hosted bandwidth, they use free hosting platforms such as blogger.

Re:devalued content (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588820)

FWIW, my shitty little project site has no ads and will never see ads. Also, everything's under a CC license, so download and use away!

Thanks for the plug.

Just replace the word "information" with "porn" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588202)

No, information (and porn) does not want to be free. That is a false premise.

People want information (and porn) to be free. Or to be more precise, people want everything they personally use to be free. It's called self-interest.

You just have to make information (or porn) worth paying for. That's hard to do when it's so easy to comparable information (or porn) for free elsewhere.

Just replace the word "information" with "porn" in all arguments and you get rid of the false moral calls that "free information serves a higher purpose" which is just an excuse for not paying for the benefit you get from the information.

Re:Just replace the word "information" with "porn" (4, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588684)

What is it with you people that don't understand anything. "Information wants to be free" isn't some crap excuse for "lol I don't wanna pay". It means that it's fundamental for information that can be copied without loss to spread out, multiply, move around, and that you have to spend a lot of effort to prevent this unless you want it to happen. What you wish or not has nothing to do with it.

Re:Just replace the word "information" with "porn" (1, Troll)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588862)

So "information wants to be free" in the same exact sense that "banks want to be robbed" - in that, if you don't put a whole lot of time and effort into preventing it, self-interested people will attempt to take what they have no real right to, simply because it's easy.

Re:Just replace the word "information" with "porn" (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589390)

I hope you die painfully and soon.

You're intentionally conflating the two concepts. Or you're not doing so intentionally, but in that case you are too stupid to live.

Re:Just replace the word "information" with "porn" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589438)

Except that most people would not rob a bank, even if it had zero security.

People lose wallets every day, and quite often they're returned by somebody who finds it - money untouched. This is because peoples' moral compass tells them that keeping the money would hurt somebody else (and many, though not all, follow this compass).

Replicating information without loss is not quite the same thing, and peoples' views of its morality reflect this.

Re:devalued content (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588662)

> After all, information does want to be free.

It does indeed.

Hey, what's your credit card number? Perhaps you could post it here.

Re:devalued content (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589044)

Maybe you should use the rest of that quote:

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ... That tension will not go away

And, information doesn't want anything. Information is not sentient; it has no wants, no desires, and no feelings. Stop anthropomorphizing it.

Saying information wants to be free is like saying a dream wants to be real. Dreams do not wish to be real, rather the dreamer wishes the dream to be real or not.

Re:devalued content (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589174)

the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing

...or maybe we're just moving to an open content model (i.e., like FOSS). After all, information does want to be free.

OK, sure, information wants to be free. But guess what: free news comes with a price, and that price is reliability and dependability. Yes, we all know many news companies are biased, sometimes report on frivolous garbage, sometimes go all sensationalist, and *gasp* sometimes don't get it 100% correct. On the other hand, they also uncover many things for us (corruption on behalf of corporations, government, etc) and keep us in the loop when nobody else will, at least while being held to a higher standard. They play major roles in the legal system.

If this information gets to the point where it's free, you're probably paying for it with tax dollars, which means it's got government hands all over it. Are you comfortable with that idea? Do you want to pay many many times more (via taxes) for a quality article you wish to read while blissfully sitting back at home and thinking "well, at least I don't have to pay pennies a day for quality news any more!!"

Get real.

Yes, I know, print is dying. They failed to keep up with the rest of us, or they are always late to the party. But, you have to give them a little bit of a break considering how much things have changed in just the past 10 years. It's unreal. You can barely make a 5-year plan in an industry where the information flows different every 6 months.

I'm not making excuses, but I am trying to paint a realistic picture here. People have so many demands: they want free news, and then they whine about advertising, and they want it on New Device X the day it comes out, which may or may not be around for awhile.

I envision that print will keep dying, and it'll get to a point to where nobody can afford to put out anything good (especially on the local level) so then all you see is shit. If it dies completely it'll be reborn some day when people realize you have to pay not very much to get something of higher quality than Bob Smith's blog.

Some things can exist on advertising revenue. Some things can't. And then others face an audience who are complete assholes about having to be bothered with seeing an ad banner above the story unveiling local government corruption.

We'll have to pay for it eventually because it can't keep going like this.

And no, you cannot compare this to Google. For one, Google has a worldwide audience viewing their ads. Podunk County News does not. Hell, even NYT doesn't have anywhere near the audience Google has for their ads.

Devalued? (1)

BabyDuckHat (1503839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588026)

Or rightvalued?

Re:Devalued? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588080)

Exactly. Perhaps more people are realizing that just because someone wrote it down doesn't make it valuable. Just because it is in the NYT or Wall Street Journal doesn't make it worth anything. People will, in general, pay for things if they see a worth to it, but if they don't, they won't.

Re:Devalued? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588226)

Just because it is in the NYT or Wall Street Journal doesn't make it worth anything.

They're both pretentious dinosaurs who think that their name alone makes them more valuable, focusing more on their brand than their content.

Re:Devalued? (1)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588404)

It would be different if their journalism was truly exceptional. But it's not so why pay for it?

Re:Devalued? (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589422)

The problem is that someone is posting any AP story to the internet and national news used to be reposting that with a few edits for your local paper. Now, only the NYT, WSJ and a very few other general news sources actually write stories and go beyond what the AP does. I think NYT is doing a great thing and has the right product with which to do it.

Re:Devalued? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589426)

BAM. Free market in action.

/. ews Network (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588040)

ISPs and content providers compete to be paid for the same thing, news at 11. In other news, people still refuse to learn how to code effectively.

content production reasons declining? (5, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588062)

I think blogs, and even facebook itself demonstrate very well that there will always be some content out there.

The major news sites just have to revamp, and stop being centers for advertising but centers for content and the people will come back. when a 5 page web article only has 2 pages of actual content you have a serious problem in your layout designs.

Besides paywalls are only good for only letting the people in who want to know your opinions. The rest of us know your opinions are just that and would prefer facts.

Re:content production reasons declining? (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588798)

Yes, but what is it really worth to you for that, and how many places will you go to to pay on a recurring basis for the news? Just processing and dispute resolution can easily suck up $5-$10 a month on an account. How many of those sites are you going to pony up for? If a large scale micropayment system existed, it might work, but there are still a lot of content creators or managers who feel that the smallest discrete chunk of material is worth $1-$2. That is, of course, unsustainable if you want people to read it every day. In that case, maybe $10 a month sounds reasonable. But if you read news from half a dozen or more sources, you're looking at a very large monthly outlay.

On the flip side, it's been shown time and again that any population interested enough in a content pool to return on a regular basis for access also has a good demographic base for advertising. It will end up with advertising eventually, and you'll still be paying. And advertisers have the advantage of being a single source for collecting revenue. It's easy to charge them 1-10c/article, because you can guarantee you'll be getting them for 100,000 hits a month - much easier than tracking 100,000 individual accounts.

Point about Twitter is foolish and shortsighted (5, Insightful)

mattdm (1931) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588090)

The summary here seems to focus on a minor (page 3) point in the article, but, man, what a bad point it is:

And the Times appears to be making a big mistake by letting people get unlimited access to its content if they come from Twitter and other feeds, apparently to not turn of the young-adult population. All that will do is perpetuate the free-loader culture and simply shift users to those conduits, turning them from grazers to firehose-feeders -- and undermining the whole notion of paying for frequent content usage.

Silly. This isn't a "big mistake". It's quite canny — they're paying people (with access to content) for providing word-of-mouth advertising. The cost (an article read for free) is very low and the benefit (lots of visitors come by without being annoyed) is high. It's a good move.

Opposite take: Paywalls bad, NYT's is good (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588120)

Paywalls are bad because they hide information behind a wall where search engines and casual users cannot reach.

I think the NYT implementation is brilliant, because content will still be indexed by search engines, and users can get around the paywall in various ways so casual users need not really notice there is one much.

Where the NYT is falling down is pricing, they should provide a pricing point that lets people who want to support the paper but not be so high that it encourages skirting. The the NYT would have a pay hedge, where you could see beyond it but be happy to pay a small fee at the ornamental gate to enter if you wanted to spend more time inside.

NYT content not cached in search engines (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588590)

They did a good job job walling off their columnists when that was a for-pay section a few back. You can request google to kep the reference, but not the full cache. A few pirate sites copied the NYT columns verbatim. But the NY was pretty effective in closing them down quickly.

Re:NYT content not cached in search engines (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588714)

They did a good job job walling off their columnists when that was a for-pay section a few back.

That system worked for Google, but still kept casual users at bay. I know I read a lot fewer NYT articles at that point because I simply didn't want to bother to log in (I even had a login).

The new system works great for both Google and casual users. It's just a question of how the NYT convinces fans (and there are a lot of NYT fans) to give them money to get a bit more. The current pricing is insane because your cost is less if you have them send you hundreds of pounds of paper that most people do not even want at this point.

Re:Opposite take: Paywalls bad, NYT's is good (1)

fabregas256 (2020388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588802)

The price isn't the problem. It is the double charging for getting the same content on multiple devices.

If you buy the paper on your iPad, you shouldn't be locked out from using the browser if you want to read a story at work. The only thing this does is piss of the people who are willing to give you money.

That part is bad (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589290)

The price isn't the problem. It is the double charging for getting the same content on multiple devices.

Then he price is the problem because to use all your devices you have to pay a lot more than you should.

My take on it being brilliant is that it's the first paywall that will not hide the site and drive most users away.

Now making money is another matter altogether and there the NYT has no idea what they are doing. But it's all just a matter of adjusting pricing to a point where the people who want in will pay.

But again, at least they have not built a pay-wall designed to destroy the site readership.

What nerve! (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588126)

Imagine if grocery stores, phone companies, or even employees earnt money from ads plastered all over their products and then asked for more off you!

Re:What nerve! (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588536)

Imagine, we don't need so many fucking ads. Period. The more you want things to be ad supported (how many users here use adblock though?) the more ads there will be, but the less effective they will be because its just another ad. This whole "information wants to be free" and "I shouldn't have to pay for anything" and "pirating is ok" mentality really does kill the top end of quality. It works in moderation (the FOSS movement) but if everything were to go that way it would collapse quite quickly as people began looking for paying jobs instead of capitalizing on generating information products.

Slashdot's greedy greedy attitude is why communism just wouldn't work. Too many self interested douche bags looking to freeload.

Re:What nerve! (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588600)

Actually, I don't mind ads, if they don't crawl across what I'm reading.

But if someone wants me to put up with ads *and* pay, then no thanks.

All Hail Apple! (-1, Offtopic)

unil_1005 (1790334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588138)

There's a company who knows how to design cheap hardware, sell it a premium, and convince you to pay and pay and pay to use it!

Jobs is brilliant!

if they were printing facts we still wouldn't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588146)

the way they do it now, we'd pay to not have to read it, except that we require the 'end user' experience, hypenosys, fear/hate level, stuff like that.

The NYT has value !!! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588188)

I thought most of what they published on there was uninformative, bias , and useless static. Why would someone pay for it.
Blogs are as good or better sources of information , at least the people that publish them make their biases evident.
I have seen few unbalanced, unbiased news articles in my lifetime and non of them were from 'mainstream' press.
Either NPR or Christian Science Monitor but even both of those certainly have bias, they just make some attempt to keep it under control.

The fact is 'the press' has lost credibility with many people. It is no longer held accountable in a way that makes it any more worthy to pay for then my next door neighbors opinion on what is happening. There used to be a saying 'just the facts' and if that were the case I'd think they were doing a service worth paying for.

Just kick the NYT out of Google News.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588192)

..so I don't accidently click on their pay-walled articles and I'm happy. So is Rupert, because I don't get a look at his precious content.

It's the Gnomes All Over Again (1)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588206)

1. Set up a paywall to block all traffic to my site.
2. ???
3. Profit!

The real issue is that it's overpriced (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588290)

Check out this comparison of digital subscription prices across different media:
http://theunderstatement.com/post/4019228737/digital-subscription-prices-visualized-aka-the-new

You'll notice that the NY Times is grossly overpriced.

Confusing Exceptions (3, Insightful)

almostmanda (774265) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588298)

This will fail because it's difficult for anyone to tell what links are going to work and what links won't.

Post an article's link to your Twitter account? No paywall.
Post it to your Facebook page? Paywall!
Post it on your blog? No paywall!
Send it in an email? Who knows!

The rules are confusing. People operate on the assumption that if a link works for them, they can share it with everyone. This is going to result in a lot of frustration.

Paywalls only work when you have something of valu (0)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588326)

Paywalls only work when there is something of value behind them. Since this particular paywall only has NYT content behind it, it is unlikely to succeed.

Re:Paywalls only work when you have something of v (1)

9re9 (803270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588440)

Yes, it's likely that the national paper with the third highest circulation [infoplease.com] * is of interest to no one.
*Data is admittedly out of date, thought I'm confident the premise still stands.

Re:Paywalls only work when you have something of v (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588640)

You do realize that the NYT has been bleeding subscribers at a steady rate since before the advent of the Internet, right? I will admit that there are a lot of people who believe what they read in the NYT, although considering their history, I have to wonder why.

Re:Paywalls only work when you have something of v (1)

commandermonkey (1667879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589302)

I never really understood the conservative echo chambers view of the NYT, or NPR for that matter. Why do you people hate it so much?

My perception of both organizations is that they occasionally do an interesting piece but are more than willing to bury a news stories like: CIA black sites, warrantless wiretapping of US citizens, etc. and their editorial boards seem to take their lead from whoever is in Washington regardless of party. Although they can both be lazy to when it comes to fact checking the errors usually seem to benefit the neo-con view of the world(examples from the last decade NYT:Judith Miller NPR:anything related to O'Keeffe.) I would think the echo chamber would be in full support of these factual inaccuracies, not against them.

Maybe the issue is that these outlets occasionally deviate from their SOP of protecting those in power and report a different view of the world? Deviate from the script of: its the browns/Muslims/foreigners that are making you poor, when talking to the "right", or its the teabaggers/"stupids" in middle America, when talking to the "left", and start talking about how its those with power/resources who are making you life worse, paying you lower wages for longer hours, sending your children to die in conflicts whose point or reason has been forgotten or eroding your right to basic human rights and dignity and you are made to pay. Stop framing the discussion in terms of it’s the other average person that is you enemy not those in power and you are derided by those who control the echo chamber as having "liberal" bias or a conservative "bias".

Re:Paywalls only work when you have something of v (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588744)

You're misinterpreting circulation with quality. If you want the classic counter, look at Fox News. They have more viewers than other TV news channels but is their quality that much better? [I'd at least argue that it's no worse in quality but I don't watch any TV news so I can't really say].

Re:Paywalls only work when you have something of v (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588896)

Fox News has segments where they stick pundits together from different parties and let them dog fight, then people who don't like Fox News go "no the Conservative always wins" when they're both making ridiculous asses of themselves. (In other words, they consistently argue that the conservative has better arguments and the liberal is a retard, and thus Fox News is run by conservatives with a strong bias, and conservatives are retards so it's misinformation ... see the logical disconnect between one point and another?)

It's still sensationalist bullshit coming from two idiots who know nothing.

Right Price (3, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588332)

I like the NYT content enough to pay a flat $5/month for all web access combined. If they would hit that "why not?" price they should get plenty of subscribers. Above that and I really ask myself if it is worth it. $35/month is getting close to cable TV pricing, so I don't know what they are thinking with that.

suck it up punk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588334)

Decry that the internet has made producing "content" hard to justify for financial reasons; ignore the fact that people will still pay for exceptional content. The complainers are the ones who can't make a comfortable living creating fair to good content -- all the internet has done is raise the necessary level of quality before it's profitable. Whiners should go find a different job.

Troll summary (1)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588382)

No the NYT is being shat upon because they are charging more for their wares than people that serve up video and audio. It's $36/year to subscribe to Pandora. NYT wants $35 for a month's worth of access. And you think WE are the insane ones? Get a grip.

Re:Troll summary (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588570)

Except they want $15/month for access.

Re:Troll summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589306)

That's the lowest tier, not the highest. The summary (and I assume GP) made reference to wanting the NYT on all devices, which is $35/month.

Re:Troll summary (1)

hahn (101816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589222)

People that serve up video and audio don't have to pay for the creation of the content (at most, they have to pay for licensing which will almost always costs far less). Why are people complaining? NYT provided a price point that it thinks it's worth. If the public disagrees, we and NYT will find out soon enough. That's how capitalism works. Nobody's pointing a gun at your head to tell you must pay it. Likewise, you are not entitled to their content if you're not willing to pay what they ask. You have better info sources for less? Fine, then use them. Why would you even care what NYT charges then?

Personally, I find myself reading NYT articles more than any others because of the thought provoking topics and the writing itself. I don't know how many articles I read per month, but if I find that I'm going over their free limit, I will happily pay it. Certainly worth more than cable. And definitely worth more than Pandora, (which I love also). Worth more for *me*, that is.

Print media vs Video Media (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588396)

The major difference between print and video is the annoyance factor of ads. Advertisements in print are simple. They often are black/white, have no movement and no MUSIC SHOUTING AT YOU. (Really annoying when you view stuff at work...) They don't pop up over the content, or even under the content. Video stuff is different. Half the reason why google became so big is that they restricted adds to words, no movement, no pictures, no sound, etc.

THIS IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE See how annoying someone shouting at you can be?

Video Media have two different business models.

TNT/USA/NBC/ and most of the internet all use an advertiser supported model. Their adds are annoying, but the content is free.

Then there is the HBO/Showtime model. They charge extra because they don't have commercials. None in the middle of the content whatsoever, and only for their own content bookending their content.

If the NYT or other news media want to go the 'pay' route, then they have to follow the other successful pay video media - no advertisements if you pay. Best of all, if you don't do ads, then you can give your clients their privacy. No advertisements means no targetting means no need to invade their privacy. Don't track what they view or do. And brag about not tracking them. Cripes, even offer search functionality without tracking.

They could even offer a double route - ads if you don't pay, no ads if you do pay.

I personally would be more than willing to pay $15 a month to get the New York Times without advertisements, and with any searching I do from their web site going untracked.

Re:Print media vs Video Media (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588548)

They could even offer a double route - ads if you don't pay, no ads if you do pay.

If only there existed a tech blog that did that. I even have a great name for this theoretical site... We could call it... Slashdot!

It's not troubling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588400)

But the more troubling underlying issue is that the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing.

By all means, let them disappear! That would increase the signal-to-noise ratio.

Devalued? (1)

eLDaai (1875668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588456)

wait wait wait.. Mr. Infoworld, but.. uh.. if:

the more troubling underlying issue is that the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing

then why did you write your article and spam it on /.? If not for income then it must just be an ego thing, right?

Re:Devalued? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589316)

wait wait wait.. Mr. Infoworld, but.. uh.. if:

the more troubling underlying issue is that the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing

then why did you write your article and spam it on /.? If not for income then it must just be an ego thing, right?

Maybe it was astroturfing?

How much is it worth? (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588530)

Right now a subscription to the physical paper cost abour $400 a year. To deliver to my house they have to pay a fee to transmit the paper to my local newspaper, and then pay my local paper to print and distribute the NYT. We can assume that this a non trivial cost. We can assume that some of the profit. We can also assume that what the papers are trying to fight are the falling ad revenues.

What I can't understand is if the mobile version and web version still have ads, and the printing costs are eliminated, and distribution costs are all but eliminated, why they need to choose the $180 price point a year instead of the $99 price point. I can see $200 on the iPad, with more limited ads.

It is the nature of an enterprise to try to maximize profit. The NYT, and The Daily, and WSJ, all are trying to maximize the value of a product. However, I can see publications like HufPo, using the overestimation of value of the other rags as an opportunity to put them out of business. I have no ill will for the NYT, I have subscribed to the digital editions when they were more reasonably priced. I think they will find few customers at this price point.

what nerve! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588534)

What nerve! Imagine if grocery stores, phone companies, or even employees began charging for their wares!

Charging for something is fine. We can just go elsewhere. The reason we're annoyed is that they dangled it in front of us for a long time, acting like it was free, and then one day tried to charge us for it. We assumed that a respectable organization like NYT would be consistent. Instead, they pulled the same dirty two-faced tricks used by less reputable organizations to try to extract money from people who find it painful to adapt when they are yanked around. It's more than just "nerve" to resort to using bait, hook, and then switch techniques. It's obnoxious.

derping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35588540)

Interesting the shit that gets first page on slashdot.

Pricing is a bit heavy... (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588554)

While I agree with the idea of paying for quality news (journalists have to eat, after all) and think NYT's paywall is well implemented (uncounted twit redirects, 20 free views, etc.), the "ultimate" edition price is quite high.

Here's an image showing their prices in relation to some other paywalls: http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/gizmodo/2011/03/subvisual.jpg [gawker.com]
All Digital Access:* $8.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $35.00) Unlimited access to NYTimes.com, plus smartphone apps and tablet apps Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any computer or device Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android-powered phones Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes app for the Chrome Web Store

They do have a cheaper rate ($195 for a year), but it only includes access to the website, I believe.

I was offered a free 2011 subscription (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588680)

From a commercial sponsor. They said because I was in the "1000 click per month" group. I have to decide by Sunday. I hope I wont get inudated by extra ads then. the Times is already pretty obnoxious with an average of three video ads per page.

At 50 cents per day, the subscription price was higher than I wanted, but not onerous. Its 1/4 the print price. I was going to procrastinate signing up hoping for some discount.

Re:I was offered a free 2011 subscription (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589396)

I got an offer on March 17, a few hours after the Important Announcement(TM), and already "decided" there. No increase in ads (just had to confirm I wanted it by re-entering my password at nytimes), but then I block Flash except from those few sites (gaming etc.) or pages that I want to use it on so I just get GIFs and JPEGs and I guess whatever cookies they feel like adding.

So not much changed since then, other than I have a free subscription to the Web and app versions until Dec. 31 and maybe Lincoln knows what I read and wants to sell me cars or something.

Can't pay for every newspaper (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588686)

My biggest problem with newspaper paywalls is that in any different week I get linked to stories in probably 15-20 different news sites. If every site charged $30+ a month to access, how many could I possibly afford? I wouldn't mind paying a bit to support news agencies but if all of them put up paywalls, how can they expect us all to pay for every one of them? NYT might be able to get away with it but a model like that would dry up every small paper out there because no one would pay for them. If it were somehow possible for me to pay $10-15 a month and have it split between the various news sites I visit I would be fine with that, but that would be very difficult to implement.

Re:Can't pay for every newspaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589070)

Not at all they could just use flattr

Screw the "business" reasons! (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588774)

Find another reason to produce content. What's the cost/benefit ratio of societal ignorance and tedium? What is more profitable? An intelligent, lively, healthy public, or an ignorant, dull, diseased one? Don't answer that!. I don't think I really want to know...

Re:Screw the "business" reasons! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589294)

Find another reason to produce content. What's the cost/benefit ratio of societal ignorance and tedium? What is more profitable? An intelligent, lively, healthy public, or an ignorant, dull, diseased one?

The problem is your assumption that the current "big content producers" somehow, miraculously I guess, produce "intelligent lively healthy public".

All they do is scare people, distribute corporate and statist propaganda, and try to control people into buying stuff they don't want. Very little to nothing redeemable. Oh, occasionally they'll try to "preach to the choir" about something ridiculously simple so folks whom already know the gospel feel morally superior, but a population that feels morally superior about itself is not really an advantage.

The sooner the big media dinosaurs die off, the sooner the average citizen's mental health and abilities will improve, not decline.

Paywalls may become defacto, but it will take time (1)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35588930)

Here's the deal,

IF news outlets can't make money, then eventually there is no need to be a news outlet. IF enough news organizations fail, then there will be a demand for GOOD journalism. When the demand is there, the money will be there, and paywalls will make good sense.

BUT not now. Right now we've got every broadcast and cable news outlet flooding the Internet with news content. Some of it is even decent coverage. So as long as there is a decent option for free news, then paywalls are irrelevant.

That means paywall promoters need to wait another 15 years (or however long existing news outlets can bleed money) OR they will learn how to make money without charging for News.

-CF

Paywalls need to be convenient to work (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589054)

Trying to get payment is hampered not so much by people's unwillingness to pay... but by the inconvenience of paying.

1. I don't want to sign up for every single site. This is what really hampers most paywalls. The internet gives you loads of content from lots of sources. Links are being sent all the time. So you need a way to give payments without requiring people to sign up for every single site.

2. Micro-payments seemed like an interesting solution... except once again... there is no standard and often you still need to sign up.

3. What you really want to an 3rd party provider making payment easy. We see that with respect to mobile app stores. Often they tie directly in to your providers billing so you only get one bill. So it becomes very easy to subscribe to sources.

4. It would require a lot of coordination, but a similar thing can happen on the internet in general. Your ISP can help with payments. They could even have packages. For example, ATT might offer you an unlimited news package for $5.00/month subscribing you to all news sites. More convenient if you don't even need to login through your home computer... they can coordinate. Packages like this would make it much more sustainable.

Overall its going to require a fair amount of innovation, but I think coordinating with the ISPs or payment or identity services is going to be the key.

For me, it's all about the pricing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589084)

I read somewhere that NYT would have you paying $30 per month, which works out to $360 per year. Meanwhile if you get home delivery on dead trees, the website cites the price for zip code 10001 as $3.10 per week, which works out to $161.20 per year. (Outside New York it seems to be $3.70 per week.)

Why on earth should it cost me more to get the online version? If anything, it should be cheaper. I wouldn't mind a paywall, even a more draconian one than what they propose, as long as it's priced where the print one is, or slightly lower.

Maybe data costs more per kB than I thought, but (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589096)

the pricing of carriers for data transport that take a larger chunk out of people's budgets than they should, making it that much harder for people to pony up for the value of the content they get through those carriers' pipes

Bah humbug. The actual content on most sites isn't all that large. Strip out the flash ads, images unrelated to the article, gratuitous javascript, etc., and you're left with the very small amount that actually matters.

Devalued useless content (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589148)

But the more troubling underlying issue is that the Internet has devalued content nearly to the point where the business reason to create it is disappearing.

Err, you mean devalued USELESS content. Note how "we" call it "content" instead of information or news, because information and news are valuable. "content" on the other hand is a placeholder to cover up some empty space.

Lets summarize the "valuable" content I see when I pull up the times front page right now:

Radiation is bad for your kids. no kidding? I never knew. Thank $diety the times is here so I can learn that. I was going to feed my kids enriched U-235 tonight, but now I'm "scared straight".

An old woman at least two generations older than me, of no cultural relevance to me whatsoever, has died. no kidding? I thought humans were immortal.

"6 things to feel good about food" Thats the headline. Seriously. You've gotta be kidding me. How much are they paying me to read that?

Warfare continues in the middle east. Since 3000 BC, pretty much uninterrupted. Wake me when they glass some cities with nukes, or the US finds some good guys to support (good luck). Till then thats a snoozer.

"How a building dispute can sink a sale" You've gotta be kidding me. I'll file that for next time I sell a condo in Brooklyn, yeah right soon I'm sure.

"The New Old Age: Simple Rules for Better Sleep". OMG. I gotta stop now.

I'm supposed to pay attention to this mental chewing gum? Even worse, I'm supposed to pay for it? And this was the "best" they could do, it being the front page?

Oh yes, that nerve. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589236)

The nerve of these massive media companies controlling almost all aspects of our knowledge of events around us and internationally. How the quality has sunk as share prices have risen, the unrelenting drive towards profit damaging concepts like professional integrity, validating the facts, and presenting the facts in a neutral fashion.Why, for all these things they've done we should pay them more.

Er, no. The reason blogs have become so damn popular and competition for conventional media outlets is because the quality has slipped to the point that individuals with little to no training, working in their spare time, can create competitive sources of information. Those sources of information are being made available for free. There's little value being added by paying for a professional to do what an amateur can almost just as well for free.

It's like Graphic Design (a field I am in). Fifty years ago, we had people who specialized in typography, layout, working with the presses. There were a dozen different jobs that, thanks to technology and lowering costs, have all been subsumed into one job: The graphic designer. Printing a book, a magazine, designing a logo, an advertisement for the newspaper -- these were major undertakings, requiring dozens of professionals working together to deliver a product to the client. Today, the graphic designer can do all this in an afternoon, or a few days -- maybe a week for a more engaging project, single-handedly, and at far, far less cost. And there's plenty of things that used to be only accessible to professionals that are now done for free, by hobbyists, at a suitable quality level... Like, for example, community and church newsletters.

The problem with the New York Times is they're still using an old information collection and distribution model. It'd be like a design house trying to model itself after the industry as it was in the 1950s... it's outdated and nobody wants to buy into it.

Digital paywall is not about digital at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35589264)

The reason the paywall is so porous is because it has nothing to do with digital access and everything to do with their failing print business. They are using the paywall as a marketing gimmick to raise print subscription numbers, which they value more over digital only subscriptions. It is about the same to get the Sunday edition at the introductory rate than it is to pay for the cheapest digital option. And guess what, if you buy any print subscription you get the highest digital access package included at no extra cost. So the vast majority of people that will get digital access will be print subscribers not digital only subscriptions. Getting around the paywall is so laughably easy as to not even be much of a concern.

The Times is just trying to buy time until they get their act together and figure out what to do to move beyond their print business. Paywall is a temporary stop-gap. They have not changed their mind-set from print-first. They have arguably one of the best newsrooms in the world and are grimly stumbling along at digital distribution of their content.

Look no further then their pathetic mobile strategy. They are trying to segment smartphones and tablets. WTF! They are penalizing multi-device users.

Two reasons (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589274)

1. NYT's paywall is a stupid hack that your dog could code around.

2. Back when newspapers were necessary, users could afford to have one, maybe two newspapers delivered, unless money was no object (and those for whom money is no object are on the other side of the economy and don't matter to this side). So they got one and they read that one religiously. And it mattered which one they chose. For a marginal amount, you could get one that was better than all of the others. You could get the news you needed for the money you had, and you weren't living with second-best. So it was a deal. Now that everyone has free access to tens of thousands of news sources, nobody needs a paper. Everyone gets more news than they need, for free. So asking people to pay for it is like asking them to pay for bottled air. Sure you'll find a few suckers, and connoisseurs, and emphysema victims or others who are dependent on your exact product, but the rest will think you're just plain nuts.

And at this point, even if ever professional news organization on the planet went to a paywall system, people would crowd-source their information, and the only way to keep the crowd from supplying it is for the news organizations to pay significantly for information from principal sources in the crowd. But we're a ways off from that sort of global social whoredom.

Buggy NYT iPad App (2)

opusbuddy (164089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35589388)

Read all the reviews on the AppStore about how buggy the NYT iPad app is. It would be fraudulent to put the NYT behind a paywall with an app that crashes all the time. In addition, you are already "paying" for the service by virtue of all the terribly intrusive advertising you have to undure (I had an audio file just start playing on its own while I was reading an article one day...that was the straw that broke the camel's back and I uninstalled the app). Customer service was useless, editor, ombudsman and publisher were even less interested in how their customers were perceiving the NYT as viewed through their app.

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