TheOnion.com has written:
“NEW YORK—In a move that media executives, economic forecasters, and business analysts alike are calling “extremely bold,” NYTimes.com put into place a groundbreaking new business model today in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides. ‘The whole idea of an American business trying to make a profit off of a product its hired professionals create on a daily basis is a truly brave and intrepid strategy,” said media analyst Steve Messner…'”
It’s not as much bold as it is survival mode, I believe.
First of all this American Business ~ the New York Times ~ has hired writers, not brick layers, that it must pay for their intellectual property. Some are on staff, some are outsourced, and all must be paid. The paper also has people who sell advertising, work the presses, work circulation, management, editors, accounting, photographers, layout text and online copy publishers, travel expenses so that news is “caught” in the heat of the moment with breaking news, etc. It all costs money.
Does advertising alone make all of the accounts payable happen, pay all of the overhead for the physical property, pay all taxes, etc., and keep the paper profitable?
Let’s think of it this way, because I was in radio and can more closely relate to what the New York Times is doing, considering declining circulation sales… When I was in radio, the station could only survive through advertisements. Even public radio has their fundraising drives to pay for not only content, but also to make payroll and pay for their operating expenses.
Reading a comment on Facebook, I was struck by this immediate thought regarding New York Time’s decision to charge for its content:
First of all, I believe that there’s greed in every industry, citing Wall Street on down. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, and is part of the lessons we must all learn on planet earth… To greed or not to greed, that’s a personal decision and the real question with every temptation.
Secondly, why have we, as people, come to believe that reading anything and everything on the internet has to be free; and if someone is trying to make some money for intellectual property that it has to be connected to greed?
I believe that it has more to do with meeting payroll and keeping the integrity of the product going, and paying the company’s operating costs; i.e., are American Newspapers going to have to be scouring the Internet and have to “borrow” someone’s writing (called aggregating) in order to fill their papers, because they can’t afford to hire anyone any more?
The cycle has already started… Less circulation means that someone has to go. And the next step for a writer is to then finding his or her blog story on a paper’s newsletter page… like USA Today. It’s happened to me, and it happened without being asked to have it there. Was I compensated for my story? Yeah… right.
Yes, it’s pretty awesome to see one’s story being so aggregated. Would I have also like to have received a little something for that story being used? Of course. I, too, have to make payroll and pay expenses…
So, regarding the perception of “greed” from the New York Times for charging an online price to read the paper…
Ask any staving writer (most of them are not highly compensated for their work, as consumers might want to believe), someone who just spent five hours writing an excellent story (after researching it for God knows how long), if he or she would like some compensation… some money to help pay for the rent, or food, or clothing, and you’ll not hear the word “greed” come up in the conversation… You’ll hear compensation and thank you very much.
We all work and need to eat. It’s far from being greedy. NYT is a platform and has to pay its writers. The less money they have for their writers, the more the decline in quality of writing will occur. As the man says, “Don’t want to pay for NYT, don’t buy it.” But, you’ll be missing out on some excellent writing. At least there will still be some writers on staff and it won’t all become aggregated. If that came to pass, writers would eventually all find a job that pays, even it’s only as a handiman/woman or as anything else that pays… Then, where will all the readers be?
Here’s a statement released last Thursday, by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., the paper’s publisher. He said:
Go, Arthur, and go New York Times!
The Wine Spectator and Robert Parker are successfully charging readers in the wine publication sector. Somebody’s got to lead the way in world news. I wish you lots of success. I’ve paid for stories when I’ve wanted to read them on line. I also pay for subscriptions. I pay for what I want, because there’s a litany of people behind the product and everyone deserves to be paid what she or he produces. You have nothing to lose, New York Times, and everything to gain… When you’ve bottomed out, and you must have or you’d not be going in this direction, there’s only one way to go. Three million readers online… even if you only save ten percent of them for a paying subscription, you’ll save your company and great news reporting.
Another comment was:
To that I say, “They’ll only lose the freeloaders. Their great content will continue.”
- New York Times Digital Subscriptions: The Unofficial FAQ Updated (paidcontent.org)
- New York Times Paywall Limit Applies To Twitter (lockergnome.com)