« Germany: "Media chancellor" accusing the media of bias | Main | US: Newspapers are the "engagement medium" reports study »

Monday, September 19, 2005

TimesSelect: a missed opportunity for newspaper partnerships

Good morning TimesSelect seems to say Steve Outing in a recent column of Editor & Publisher.

Regarding the new paid service from The New York Times providing exclusive online access to Op-Ed columnists, the NYT archives and some web tools, he considers that "the hybrid online publishing model is a good one (keep most of the news Web site free, but build a suite of premium services worth paying for)".

Nevertheless, I consider an opportunity was missed in the struggle for the newspaper industry to reinvent a new business model. And I hope this missed opportunity will serve as a lesson in other countries as in the US.

What's the issue? It seems rather clever that the New York Times finally choose to introduce new "pay" service. But this shift would have a totally different significance if other national newspapers - such as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and why not USA Today - did the same thing at the same rate at the same moment.

Immediately more than 50% of all op-ed pages produced in America would be available behind paywalls and op-ed page addicted readers - and many bloggers using these sections as punching balls - would have to choose: to pay or not to pay, to be an insider or a news refugee!

The Times decision to make its own and lonely policy is risky: not because web editors and bloggers will copy and paste the columns some will disseminate, but because a majority of them will ignore the Times columnists and will find their "honey" in other sources.

Another strategy would have been to discuss with other publishers and to define a common strategy to create a more powerful leverage toward readers. The problem is that every newspaper thinks it is able to escape the circulation decline by itself. But this is a wrong attitude: newspapers need to talk together and to define common paywalls. If not, every newspaper's paywall will be submerged one by one.

This mentality of working together is not at all "in the air" within the newspaper industry. But defeat after defeat, publishers and editors will be obliged to present a common front regarding pure online players: it is better to share revenues of a big cake - for instance all op-ed pages produced by some national newspapers sold in one package - than to go it alone!

Source: Editor & Publisher and former posting.

PS: in Spain, El Paisdid exactly the opposite than The New York Times: three years ago, they decided to become a paid site (with very few exceptions), but in June 2005, the Spanish newspaper was obliged to change its strategy and to again become a free website!

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on September 19, 2005 at 07:06 PM in a. Citizen journalism, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, r. Revenues and business models | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341e0b0f53ef00e55052cd448833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference TimesSelect: a missed opportunity for newspaper partnerships:

Comments

Newspapers cannot stave off the Internet. I don't necessarily think it is bloggers that will plunge the knife (although some of the very good Opinion bloggers will help feed the Op-Ed market.)

No - I think something akin to WikiNews is going to do it. Today, it is far less advanced than newspapers. But throw up enough paywalls?

Well I'd just point to what WikiPedia has to done to encyclopedia companies. It rather blows them away in not only scope of topics covers, but also accuracy as well.

Posted by: RKB at Sep 23, 2005 9:44:59 PM

Contrary to those who believe that TimesSelect will somehow lead readers of the mainstream press to the irrelevant ramblings of narcissistic blogs, I think the consequences will be far worse: people will just stop looking for news and opinions because of the hassle and cost and will drift away from following the news at all.

Posted by: Ron Thomas at Sep 21, 2005 8:04:54 PM

I don't know the ownership structure of the newspaper you mention, but unless these papers are owned by the same corporation wouldn't this be some kind of "price cooperation", i.e. some kind of anti-trust violation?

Posted by: JX at Sep 20, 2005 8:21:27 AM

Forgetting the anti-trust ramifications of this scheme for the moment ....

Having all the MSM op-ed pages go
commit circulation-suicide behind a paywall will only accelerate the growth and maturation of the blogosphere, and hasten the demise of the BigThoughtCo.'s.

Luckily, you MSM folks remain ignorant of network effect economics, and will continue on your fast freight train to extinction.

Yow.

-- stan

Posted by: Stan Krute at Sep 20, 2005 6:03:05 AM

Unless I'm missing something, you're advocating a criminal conspiracy in violation of federal antitrust laws.

Do I have that right, or are newspapers - as they seem to believe - above the reach of the law?

Posted by: Joe Zekas at Sep 19, 2005 11:22:06 PM

Dear Gael,

Sorry for intruding here. I just wanted to invite you and your readers to come check out Orato, which aims to be the first content site exclusively devoted to first-person journalism. That is, stories which are told entirely in the first-person voices of eyewitnesses to major events such as the London Subway bombings and day-to-day life in the streets of Baghdad. We’ll also feature the rants and soliloquies of interesting people in the news.

I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but we’re putting together some really great stories on a range of topics: Current Events, Entertainment, Sports, Health and Science, Travel and Adventure, Bad Media (where we watch the watchdog) Love and Friendship, Business and Technology, the ever-mysterious Mystery heading, and something creatively called ‘Miscellaneous’ for when we can’t think of anywhere else to put it.

Check the Contributor's Registry which is already online; it’s Orato’s call to journalists and enthusiastic writers from around the world to get involved. Orato will combine the work of professional journalists and “citizen journalists”: people from 122 countries have already registered and sent us story ideas.

We’ll commission and pay for feature stories in the first-person voice, but we will make it possible for anyone, for a small fee, to publish their own stories on the site. And we’ll regularly evaluate pay-to-publish stories that are highly rate by readers, moving the best into the feature window and paying their authors the same rates we pay commissioned authors. We’re hoping to foster ethical practices and quality reporting in this new medium, and above all, create a forum for great storytelling.

In the registry, we have included sample stories to demonstrate what we mean by first-person news, so please, take a minute to look at the samples, register, and send us your story ideas. And please, feel free to contact us if you have questions


Cecilia Jamasmie
Assignment Editor

Posted by: Cecilia Jamasmie at Sep 19, 2005 8:16:20 PM