Daily Archives: January 27, 2010

The New York Times sorta, kinda, decides to step up. And Ed Rendell nails it

Another of the stories I didn’t pay enough attention to last week was the announcement, long-awaited by many of us, that the granddaddy of all newspapers, the New York Times, was finally go to start charging for content on its website.

While this is 12 years or so too late, when I heard that the Times was finally going to stop giving away its product for free, I was happy. Newspapers, if they’re going to survive, have to start making readers pay for news they’ve been paying for for the last 100 years.

I’ve used this analogy before, but it still applies: Take any other business in the world, and say to that business (let’s say it’s a vegetable stand): OK, we know you’ve been getting customers to pay for this product forever, but now, get this, you’re going to give them an option to just get it for free! But some people will still buy the product, just millions of others will get it for nothing! I mean, what business owner would possibly buy into that?

Anyway, so, great, the Times is going to charge. Except, they are, but not really. Print subscribers will get online access for free, which makes sense. Everyone else will also get a certain number of articles for free, and only then will they start having to pay. Nobody is saying yet how much free content a reader will get, or how much they’ll have to pay once they’ve exceeded their “story limit.”

And oh yeah, none of this starts until 2011! I’m sure the NYT employees laid off between now and then will be so happy the Old Gray Lady decided to wait a year before increasing revenue.

I’m sorry, but as a current newspaper journalist watching my industry die, this is so not enough. This is barely dipping a toe in, like trying to extinguish a volcano with with a fire extinguisher.

Come on, people who own newspapers, step up to the plate, will you please?

**So I’ve always thought Ed Rendell, former mayor of Philadelphia and former governor of Pennsylvania, was a sensible man. I didn’t like some of the things he said about Obama during the ’08 campaign, but hey, he was a loyal Hillary guy and I respect that.

Anyway, in this clip he voices what so many of us liberals are saying and feeling right now about health care: President Obama, stand up and show some fire. Lead on this health care bill, don’t just let it die. And if the Republicans want to filibuster? Call their bluff. Make them shut down Congress while doing it, and we’ll see who the American people side with.

Quit rolling over, Democrats. We’ve seen that way too many times before. Take it away, Ed: