I’m pretty sure you could. Hell, I’m pretty sure Puck and Riot could. If they had thumbs.
Instead of being happy with their $237 million, which may or may not be the total across multiple newspapers but STILL, the Times wants to alienate its online readership with a stupid, counterproductive $5-per-month online subscription charge that is so small as to convey to those who pay it that said content is only worth $5 per month so why bother.
Which move would likely drive current page counts down through the basement all the way to at least the second circle of Hell, and as a consequence alienate the very online advertisers presently providing that $237 million in an effort to reach the Times’ readership.
I used to think the problem with our current newspaper conversation was that the people talking had no idea how the Internet worked. In the past six months I’ve come to understand that they don’t know how newspapers work. You use the size of your audience to sell people on reaching that audience. The bigger your audience, the more you can charge people for access to it. Publishers are pimps, that’s all. All the changes in technical whatsits have not altered this formula one bit.
survey reads: “The New York Times website, nytimes.com, is considering
charging a monthly fee of $5.00 to access its content, including all
its articles, blogs and multimedia. All of this content is currently
available for free.
“When answering the following questions,
please think about whether you would be willing to pay for continued
unlimited access to nytimes.com.
“How likely would you be to pay
a $2.50 monthly fee — which would be a 50% discount for home delivery
subscribers — for continued, unlimited access to nytimes.com?”
one thing I advise people on this is that we’ve got a very large
[online] revenue stream,” Mathis said. “We looked at 30 different
companies — Weight Watchers, ESPN, Consumer Reports — to see how much
money is being generated from Web sites. What we saw is that we’re
doing a pretty good job monetizing content with advertising.”
Of $352 million in digital revenue reported by the Times Co. in 2008, about $237 million was generated by its newspaper sites.
So WHAT’S THE FUCKING PROBLEM you have to charge to SOLVE? I’m sorry to shout, but honest to God, if First Draft had $237 million per year we would have bureaus in every country that you could legally buy alcohol in and some where you couldn’t and we’d pay to smuggle in cases of Stoli. We’d be reporting from the top of Mount Everest and the International Space Station for no other reason than that we fucking COULD. Not only would we buy that blogger compound in New Orleans that Scout and I keep talking about setting up and run nine separate news sites out of there, we’d buy the Great Orange Satan and pay interns in solid goldducats to throw virtual spitballs at people who wank about their user IDs. And these people have the nerve to BITCH.
(And yes, I know the answer to this question is that $237 million may pay for a lot of reporters and journalism and presses and shit but it can’t pay for the Sulzbergers’ dinner drinks, but I want for once in this miserable life to hear somebody in one of these stories just come right out and SAY IT so we can have a conversation about real stuff instead of tying our shoelaces together, falling down, and proclaiming walking an impossibility.)
And THAT was deemed such a miserable failure that it had to be discontinued and people had to moan in public about how nobody appreciates the genius that is David Brooks and whatever.