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Now, admittedly, I won’t have to: my daily newspaper subscription entitles me to free access online. I’m just sayin’, that if I was asked to, I wouldn’t. The New York Times, and every other publication, is going to have to figure out a more sensible business model. Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. is calling it one of the most significant days in the Times’s 159-year history: “Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend.”
I agree it’s a significant day for the New York Times. Only I think it day that will go down as the worst miscalculation of consumers in the company’s history. Sulzberger seems to believe the world is invested in good journalism. Sadly, they don’t care.
This isn’t a critique of the New York Times and what many see as its mistakes or declining standards over the past few years. This is not about Judith Millers’s war drums before the invasion of Iraq, or Jason Blair, or the embarrassment of the front page John McCain faux mistress story in the middle of the presidential campaign.
I believe the New York Times, on balance, is still an outstanding newspaper, worthy of its many Pulitzer prizes. Their obituaries of the 9/11 victims, focusing on who they were as people instead of what they did for living, was a defining moment in journalism. Their science, health and medical reporting is in a league of its own. Their willingness to take on pharmaceutical companies separates them from network news which has become co-dependent. Tom Friedman, Maureen Down, Paul Krugman, I love them even when I don’t love them. I will miss Frank Rich.
After all, a brilliant mind, even one with whom you disagree, is a terrible thing to waste. Which brings me back to the wacky decision to charge for the New York Times online.
WILL CONSUMERS PAY FOR NEWS ONLINE? JUST ASK RECORD EXECS HOW CHARGING FOR DOWNLOADS IS WORKIN’ FOR THEM? Read the rest of this entry »