Friday, April 1, 2011


ANOTHER PRICK AND THEIR WALL: As a news junkie- in recovery or at least reducing consumption to a more reasonable ration of late-the hammer came down for us on Monday when the NY Times started charging for on-line access.

Not that we really have time to read the Times much but they do host the Associated Press wire which we peruse as time permits. In the past three years since we've started concentrating on more local news, a quick glance down the AP wire- which is nearly impossible to find at the main Times page- has given us the basics of national and international news so that if we ever get to more "alternative" news providers we have the background to get past the "explanatory" paragraphs and gnaw on and digest the meat.

So, caught unawares, we got to our 20th article of the day on Monday rather quickly and were told we'd have to pay almost a buck a pop to read any further articles.

We say this not to whine too much but to point out that we found the solution to the problem rather quickly because blaringly and glaringly we couldn't help but notice a bunch of beckoning headlines every time we logged into our Yahoo! mail account.

And, of course, one click away were all those self-same articles "aggregated"- along with some Reuters- for free.

Now being a journalist we have sympathy for our brethren who are victims of the mammoth downsizing of the newsgathering business and the "everything you ever wanted for free" nature of the internet. The question of who pays for all that first hand newsgathering in that age is a perennial stumper and has led the Times to decide to erect their pay wall.

But geez guys- what the heck are you thinking?

The only thing that the Times is accomplishing is to drive the eyeballs that they had, to other sources, And although the amount that on-line advertising brings in is miniscule compared with the ad revenues that newspapers have traditionally reaped, they're doing nothing but directing those eyeballs to the aggregator sites like Yahoo!, Google and the like.

People searching for a workable business model to support newsgathering need to think about the only workable solution- to form a consortium of all news providers and charge a small monthly amount- maybe five or ten bucks or whatever happy medium price point wont discourage readers/customers- for access to all on-line "newspapers"... national, state or local.

The model is similar to one that's existed since the first days of radio. The ASCAP/BMI model provided music artists a small amount per play for many years and, although the profits are less now- and their tactics in achieving it have pissed off many a customer- it has remained, if not as successful in an on-line world, at least as viable with subscription services and on-line radio beginning to thrive.

The Times has picked the easy and thoughtless was to protect their intellectual property. You'd think people that smart would be smart enough to see that it's an experiment bound for failure.

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