My Reaction to the NYTimes Announcement

Today, the NYTimes announced their digital subscription offering.

In reading through the 6 major bullet-points describing the subscription offering, my initial reactions as a reader are:

  1. This sounds hard and complicated.
  2. Can I become a home delivery subscriber and opt out of receiving the paper?

Earlier this week, Elko pointed me to NYTimes Chrome – a non-scrolling, HTML5 implementation of NYTimes’ top news…that looks just like the print edition. Only much, much smaller and harder to both read and navigate.

Take a look at this article: 2 columns spread across multiple pages. We solved this interaction problem thousands of years ago.

The problem I don’t see the NYTimes solving in either of these efforts is relevance, clarity, expertise, and guidance.

I don’t have time or inclination to read every section head, let alone every article. What would a presentation look like that only gave me the stories, coverage, and writers that I find most compelling.

Yes – let me filter and block stories from ever being shown to me.

Today, here’s how I solve this problem:

  1. Not read NYTimes.
  2. Wait for someone I trust and respect to point me to a NYTimes story.

“if it’s important, it will find me.”

What if the NYTimes knew me well enough to be that trusted and respected link source – by not giving me everything – just the most compelling & relevant.

For example – take a look at, I’m assuming the sections below the big Kindle ad don’t look much like this to you.

I’m assuming our pages look different because Amazon discovered that promoting different items to different individuals increased overall sales.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve grown weary of the Fukushima story.

To me that sounds like a compelling, useful, differentiating, chargeable news offering.


“They’re not offering anything to readers other than the Times’ survival, and they’re not even explicit about that”. – Dave Winer

“This paywall is anything but simple, with dozens of different variables for consumers to try to understand… If you’re already paying $15 every four weeks to have full access to the website, why on earth would you pay extra just to be able to read the paper on its own dedicated app rather than in Safari? I, for one, prefer the experience of reading on the web on my iPad, rather than reading an iPad app which has no search, no links, no archives, no social recommendations, etc etc. If the NYT wanted to kill any incentive to read and develop its iPad app, it’s going about it the right way.” – Felix Salmon

“Now, there are those who will tell you that your business model couldn’t be more doomed if you opened a chain of in-temple money changers, which is no doubt why you wanted to try it out on Canadians before attempting any human testing.” – Marcus Carab

“The NYT arguably will be running fewer cliched or predictable or easily substitutable articles. It should make the paper less comprehensive, but sharper at the edges..” – Tyler Cowen

“I don’t have the patience for convoluted overpriced schemes like this. I’ve had it with ultimatums. This is just one more lopsided End User License Agreement. And it’s one that I can walk away from, so I’m walkin’.” – Richard Fink

Update 19 Mar 2011:
I’m intrigued with this notion of charging those whose world-view requires the NYTimes and no one else. Perhaps I’m missing something, but the incentives to migrate into that world-view don’t seem very strong.

One thought on “My Reaction to the NYTimes Announcement

  1. As a native New Yorker, I’m a lifelong reader of both the print and, for the past ten years, the web edition. While I would prefer that it remain totally free, I have no objection, in principle, to the NYTimes asking for money. But it isn’t a good value for me, so I won’t pay. And I won’t continue to read articles under a DRM-like regime that counts the number of articles I’ve read for the month, until I reach a limit. (Smacks of mobile phone minutes.)
    The prices and payment scheme are way out of whack.
    And haven’t they learned anything from the music biz: “Sorry, we know all you want are the single songs, but you have to buy the whole album. Tough.”
    If this move does succeed – in a financial sense only – in trading the exclusion of the many in exchange for revenue from the few, then it will be a precedent that I don’t really want to be a part of.
    With great sadness, I’m just saying goodbye to the NYTimes. Thankfully Frank Rich just moved on to New York Magazine, I’ll catch up with him there.

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