Adam L. Penenberg (a character in Shattered Glass) has an excellent article up about how the New York Times doesn’t get the Web. (And oh yeah, part of it’s based on an interview with me…)

Wired: Searching for The New York Times

posted July 14, 2004 10:09 AM (Personal) (4 comments) #


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You: “weblogs could thoroughly compare modern political coverage with coverage from 1996 or 2000,”

They could. But who would? I mean, how many articles are published that would be falsified by a brief fact-checking?

Penenberg: “The permanence of its reporting and extension of its brand name in cyberspace would more than compensate for the paltry amount of money it would lose from its paid archive.”

Unfortunately, that’s speculation, not self-evident truth.

posted by Seth Finkelstein at July 14, 2004 10:41 AM #

They could. But who would? I mean, how many articles are published that would be falsified by a brief fact-checking?

Most of them. Such analyses are difficult and time-consuming, and even the good ones are often wrong in various ways.

posted by pudge at July 14, 2004 11:20 AM #

The real problem is that their product does not have all that much value on the web. The light to medium analysis they offer is not much of an improvement on wire services. Their breadth of coverage is hardly an advantage in competing with the whole web. In many casses their market posiion is shot to pieces by a whol range of people who in print would be but gnats. The WSJ and FT have to compete with Bloomberg and Reuters. Everyone has to compete with the BBC and CNN.

While there is less visible value on the web newspapers will be tied to their print output and won’t be easily persuaded to be very web friendly. To fully exploit the web would take a change in editorial practice not necessarily compatible with the newspaper business.

To make matters worse, in general circulations are falling. While this might make the need to do something more urgent in practice it just means tight budgets and over caution. You shouldn’t undersetimate the amount newspapers have spent on the web. That fact makes them much more consrevative now.

The current situation is not very exciting, hobbles the usefulness of content and is at best marginally profitable for the papers (and that’s freeriding on the content). However they will struggle to do much different while they have print offerings to run and will not necessarily be the ones filling the gap they fill in the future.

If you do have an idea how newspapers could make money online, rather than just be a cool thing, let me know!.

posted by Jack at July 14, 2004 03:06 PM #

The article says, “A far more sensible position for the Times would be to charge for new news, not old news. Can you imagine the possibilities if it opened up its archive?”

For over a year, our newspapers that have paid web access do exactly that, charge for new news, not old news. When implemented none of the hundreds of thousands of newspaper stories listed in google were lost and traffic actually went up!

Here’s the initial report I wrote:

posted by Stephen Larson at July 15, 2004 01:02 PM #

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