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Posted by Barry Parr on January 21, 2009
Posted by Barry Parr
I agree with my colleague David Card that the New York Times must cut costs and raise the price of the print edition. David also agrees with Henry Blodget that Times should start charging for its online product. But Blodget's analysis rests on some on a comparison with the Wall Street Journal, which I don't think is useful:
If NYTimes.com's problem is that it has too much advertising inventory, nothing can save it.
Traditionally, subscribers barely covered the cost of printing and distributing newspapers and magazines. Michael Kinsley did a great job of laying this out way back in 2001. The genius of William Randolph Hearst, among others, was to pretty much give away the product to sell the ads.
The solution to this problem is not as simple as putting a price on your Web site and treating it like a streetcorner vending machine. The eventual winners in Twenty-First Century "paper" wars will succeed by thinking a lot bigger, and lot stranger. No one knows the answer to this problem, but many folks now see the direction in which it lies.
I have a report coming out soon that will address media strategy in the networked era, but my Best Practices in Networked Media report is a good place to start. Bloomberg and Reuters are on their way to becoming networked media giants, and trying to charge for access will only slow the Times's progress to its own transformation.