March 28, 2011 § 3 Comments
Updated: March 28, 2011 8:12 p.m.
And so the experiment begins, with traditional print journalists heaving a sigh of relief and online folks raising an eyebrow or two while posting away jauntily on their blogs with the words “failure” and “mistake.”
Today, the NYTimes website unveiled a small box in the upper right corner entitled “Digital Subscriptions” that has the potential to re-energize what some have referred to as a sinking paper ship known as the newspaper. But will people go for it?
That question alone has been the subject of intense conversation between professional, amateur and even journalists in training (such as myself) at some point or another, touching upon the industry’s ability to charge an audience for what it’s been able to get for free.
But whether the move spells out success or doom for the media giant is yet to be seen.
What we do know is this: it wouldn’t be the first time that a newspaper has evoked a pay wall onto its online twin (The Wall Street Journal claims the prize for largest newspaper to initiate and sustain a pay wall), nor is it even the first attempt by the Times itself.
Indeed, the Times briefly flirted with the idea of monetizing their online content with TimesSelect only to ditch the plan two years later in 2007. Up until today, readers were given unbridled access to any of the Times articles written post 1980. The site’s general manager at the time had this to say on the decision to eliminate what had brought in $10 million a year for the company:
“We now believe by opening up all our content and unleashing what will be millions and millions of new documents, combined with phenomenal growth, that that will create a revenue stream that will more than exceed the subscription revenue.” (Vivian Schiller)
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as the Times continues to bleed red and viewers have much more to choose from now than they did back in ’07 –both for free and online.
The wall has already dominated the blogosphere with some supporters like The Onion who called it a “bold business move” and readers of Business Insider affirming the wall’s future success. But the web also hosts the paper’s ‘fare’ share of wall naysayers like The Street who call it “the dumbest of this week’s dumbest.”
Unsurprisingly, sites such as this one take a stronger stance on the inadequacies of the wall with instructions on how to evade it entirely. (If anyone tries it, do tell me how it goes. I am very interested in seeing if the web gods really are all powerful–even in the likes of the Sulzbergers). PCWorld does a great job at breaking the terms of the pay wall down for size with their post here.
But while many are anxious to see just how porous or impervious this pay wall is, I for one am dreading the day that I see the pay wall in all it’s digital brick-ish glory upon hitting my 21st article (something that will occur in probably less than a week’s time).
As a broke (journalism) college student, paying that extra $7.40 a week just isn’t an option.
So, food for thought: how many of you are opening your wallets for an online subscription and how many of you are not ready just yet to throw in the proverbial towel?
December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
zeitgeist |ˈtsītˌgīst; ˈzīt-|noun [in sing. ]: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German Zeitgeist, from Zeit ‘time’ + Geist ‘spirit.’
In under three minutes, Google has managed to sum up the year while promoting its bevy of online services and products. Leave it to Google to multitask!
November 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
With Google TV and Apple already making their rounds on the online television circuit, a report from Turner Broadcasting that claims web viewers may be willing to watch even more ads online is drumming up support for television without the television.
The report found that online viewers may be willing to sit through ads comparable to that of current television ads (read: a half hour of NBC’s “Community” actually breaks down to a 23 minute episode with the remaining seven minutes left for 30 seconds+ ads).
Currently, Hulu viewers are accustomed to much less, watching that same 23 minute episode with four to five 15-30 seconds breaks–totaling a whopping minute and a half of ads. Viewers on Hulu also have the option of watching a minute-long trailer or long-form commercial first and bypass the 15-30 seconds breaks entirely for an uninterrupted viewing experience.
The plan? Pad online streams with so many ads that its simply television online. Really? Moving backwards much?
Granted that online viewing still has its limitations, the idea of online streams simply becoming jam-packed with ads will still not bode well with online viewers. The flexibility of the web is still hampered by traditional media, with some shows running on a delayed posting date in conjunction with broadcast agreements (e.g. popular shows like Fox’s “House” is posted 7 days after the original broadcast).
And we still haven’t seen anything comparable to a 6 o’clock news show online that doesn’t originate from a network. [And even so, how many times will you go online to watch Nightly News with Brian Williams the DAY AFTER the original broadcast? It’s old news made even older.]
But for now, it’s good news for those hoping to squeeze the nickels and dime out of online viewers, who, for the most part–don’t really pay attention to ads. At least I don’t. The best part of watching House online, even if it’s a week later, is being able to quickly toggle to my Facebook page while some Toyota ad blares on in the background. Is it just a case of the dollar-dime rule, this time applied to television and the web instead of print and the web?
September 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
Today, Google turns 12 years old.
In addition to being the world’s leading search engine (everywhere except China where it’s second to Baidu), Google has come to shape the very way Internet users navigate and utilize the web with a wide array of useful and, more often than not, free products.
In conjunction with its birthday, Google unleashed Google Instant, a live search function that’s more cool than shocking in terms of changing the way users search online (it didn’t). And Google is becoming a force to be reckoned with outside the confines of the Web, competing on the phone market with its highly popular Android operating system for smartphones, as well as the newly launched Google Voice, which is set to compete with Skype as well as traditional landlines.
Google’s web shadow is monstrous, yes, but what exactly does it have to do with journalism? Well, just about everything.
For starters there’s Google News, the popular news aggregator that had that pesky run-in with the Associated Press, and Google’s ongoing partnership with China, which brought up a censorship debate over the country’s use of a search-limited Google.
So it’s no secret that Google plays a large role in the dissemination and access of information on the Web, which in turn plays a part in the general dissemination of news. And more recently, the ‘killing’ of traditional news as it shifts from print and television to the web…but perhaps we’ve been looking at it all wrong.
Back in June, James Fallows of the Atlantic wrote a piece entitled “How To Save the News,” providing readers with an inside look at Google’s attempt to save journalism by coming up with an alternate business model.
Among Google’s suggestions for the drowning industry? Cutting newsprint, bundling news online, rebuilding display ads, designing a paywall, and basically transforming the way people digest news by linking directly to youtube videos and breaking up text.
All in all, it’s an interesting take on the biz from a group that’s poised to kill it.