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The Almighty Buck The Media

Who Will Control the Cost of the NYT On Digital Readers? 217

Posted by timothy
from the hand-of-fate dept.
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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Who Will Control the Cost of the NYT On Digital Readers?

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  • by yog (19073) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:48AM (#31198044) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Friday February 19, 2010 @09:05AM (#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.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:39AM (#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.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:45AM (#31199124) Journal
    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.
  • by Necron69 (35644) <jscott.farrowNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:25AM (#31199600)

    Are they nuts? I honestly doubt whether I'll renew my local paper (The Denver Post) next year. I'm paying about $35/year for a Thursday-Sunday subscription, and even that seems like too much. The news is outdated and I've read it all online by the time the paper is delivered. The only thing I'm really still getting it for is local advertisements and coupons. The NY Times has none of those things, and I can read the same AP/Reuters articles anywhere. I could care less about their editorials and investigative stuff. If it is really important, it will show up all over the web in short order.

    Necron69

  • by xaxa (988988) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:50AM (#31199924)

    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.

    If I want to know about today's fire I can ask the firefighters [london-fire.gov.uk]. Good journalism tells me why the fire last month happened, who was imprisoned for causing the fire last year, and what law (building regulation) is being changed to prevent another fire like the one two years ago. Next year, good journalism will report on how someone in breach of these regulations got away with it.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 19, 2010 @12:00PM (#31200066) Homepage Journal

    Newspaper corporations are expert at missing the boat on media changes. Newspapers could easily have gone into radio when it became a mass medium in the 1920s-1930s. Either running an entire station that just read the paper over the air, maybe with extra features inserted, in between the ads, or just syndicating readings to other stations. They could have done the same when TV came around. Both times they let their hugely popular, powerful and profitable industry get knocked down by newcomers in the new medium. By the time the Internet arrived in prime time, they were already pros at missing the boat, and this time missed the perfect medium for them to dominate.

    Now they'll screw up mobile readers, because they are locked in a late 1800s mentality. They hate interactivity, customization by readers, sharing, or anything else that's different from being the voice of a central authority on facts increasingly out of touch with the reality they say they cover.

    The only new medium newspapers ever tried to adopt was movies, with newsreels. A terrible way to present anything but the most sensationalistic and trivial news, but an effective propaganda tool. That is what the newspaper industry reduces itself to by treating its consumers with contempt, instead of embracing opportunities to communicate more effectively: a manipulative entertainment tool.

    No wonder nobody even wraps fish with them anymore.

  • Naysayers Unite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lackofsleep (1749320) on Friday February 19, 2010 @12:23PM (#31200354) Homepage

    Because you're dead right in this case.

    People are not stupid. They're not going to pay that much for a subscription to the mishmash that the paper edition has to be. This newspapers and others have stars in the eyes. This former journalist makes a good argument here [barryschiffman.com]

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 19, 2010 @01:13PM (#31201050) Journal

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

    Go here: http://www.glennbeckclips.com/02-18-10.htm [glennbeckclips.com] (or simply glennbeckclips.com if that link is broke) and watch Segments 3 and 4, and tell me they are not insightful, or at least educational, in regards to our debt situation.

    On the liberal side Rachel Maddow has similar investigative/educational segments. Why would I pay New York Times or any other newspaper ~$400 a year when I can get pretty much the same info for FREE from television or radio?

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 19, 2010 @01:36PM (#31201374) Journal

    >>>Yet in the case of government funding (such as BBC), the press is freer, better, and more critical of the government.

    False.

    Biased BBC - biased-bbc.blogspot.com
    Criticism of the BBC - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_BBC
    BBC confesses bias on religion, politics - www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52574
    BBC report damns its 'culture of bias' - www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1942948.ece
    The bias by omission is nothing less than outraging - bustingbbcbias.blogspot.com/
    BBC bias in favor of Lisbon Treaty - democracymovementblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/bbc-bias-in-lisbon-treaty-reporting.html
    'EU bias' to be probed - www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1557542/EU-bias-of-Today-show-to-be-probed.html
    And on
    and on
    and on - http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=opera&hs=cur&rls=en&q=BBC+bias&btnG=Search&aq=4&aqi=g10&oq= [google.com]

    Only someone who is in denial thinks the Government-funded BBC (or PBS or CBC) is unbiased. They are no different than any of us. We kiss-up to the boss to keep our jobs, and they are not different.

  • by zolltron (863074) on Friday February 19, 2010 @03:39PM (#31202762)

    "Reading both sides" is not always a good way to find out the truth. If one side is willing to lie and the other isn't, then you won't get a balanced sense of the situation from reading both sides. Your view will be slanted toward the side willing to lie.

    Perhaps no news outlet will outright lie (perhaps), but I am very confident that Fox News is perfectly willing to report things with the slimest of corroboration as cold, hard fact if it suits their political agenda. I don't mean to pick on right, there are plenty of left wing organizations that do the same too.

    My point is simply that reading a bunch of different sources is not guaranteed to give you an accurate picture of the world. More broadly, this is why I think news aggregation, like google news, cannot take the place of a single, good news source.

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