2011-03-18 Leave a comment
When you’re dying of hypothermia you may believe that taking your clothes off is a good idea. Such paradoxical undressing really isn’t a good idea but – if it’s one you have – it’s usually the last one you have and seems like a great idea at the time. Time which you’re about to run out of.
As the article says, “The newspaper hopes to make up for lost revenue as newspaper sales have fallen and as advertising earnings have slipped.” which itself is hardly news. And, as we all know, hope is not a strategy. Naturally the newspaper should act, not hope, and indeed intends that act to be to charge for access.
But aren’t they already doing that? You already buy the NYT don’t you – at least the print edition?
We don’t want to pay for the print edition of the NYT (evidence – sales have fallen) because we don’t have to pay for the online edition (evidence – the online eddition is free). Makes sense.
So, to recover the sales income, make us pay for the online edition too. It’s well known that folk are eager to pay for stuff they hitherto got for free. At least that’s a reaonable explanation for the rather confident ‘will’ in their justification – “our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue“. Bound to work, won’t it?
Did it? Ask The (London) Times.
Well, maybe best not ask them actually. Let’s change the subject and hope that nobody notices. Instead, seek support for the theory by citing a completely different kind of publication. What does The Financial Times say (after three years of paywalling)? We have to be careful here because the BBC say that the FT said – “both digital content and digital advertising revenues” have risen every year since. So the Beeb are prepared to quote the issue as stated by the FT, but they’re not prepared to quote the FT’s claim about the actual rise.
And what does that mean anyway? Nothing. Digital content has risen. Not a huge surprise. Digital advertising revenues have risen. So what? That matters little to news readers and can in any case be achieved with price hikes to advertisers. At best, the FT’s doing OK behind its paywall. Well done FT. Well done a specialist publication which carries information that people can actually use.
The FT is not the T and it’s also neither the NYT nor the Wall Street Journal. Both the FT and the WSJ can say, reasonably, “We’ve found our readers seek out and, importantly, pay for… responsible and authoritative journalism that they can trust“. They can say it because it may well be true. They aren’t saying how large their readership is or how well those publications are doing. Neither of which – even if their figures and finances are wonderful – has any bearing whatever on the readership or the income of the Times, New York or otherwise, publications with dwindling authority carrying advertisements and opinions in a competitive snowfield.