This is an unfortunate act of corporate desperation for which NYT shows a considerable lack of conscience toward its hard won but honorary role as a major force in US public opinion. And it shows that, as with many (if not all) corporations, continued quarterly growth of the company (rather than a level of sustainability or shrinkage that reflects the real economic environment) is far more important than the people that it serves, in that service continually shrinks to feed the company’s artificially increasing bottom line. And what incredibly good timing; in the depths of a worldwide recession NYT decides to essentially drop lower income readers in favor of a monied minority that will pay such an exorbitant price.
So, in 15 years NYT marketing team has not come up with a viable internet distribution/advertising model? That is truly unbelievable. How many different advertising schemes has NYT tried since going online? How many unique or pioneering ideas have they had to change the game? If there is blame to be attributed for the insolvency of NYT’s online model, it rests not with the public, but squarely on the shoulders of NYT. It is unfortunate that in the rarified strata of boardrooms filled with disconnected executives and reams of financial “projections,” the concept of “the customer is always right” appears to have been abandoned.
It reminds me of a time when music industry “suddenly” woke up to the fact that the world had changed around them, but had up to that point virtually sat on their hands. Customers (and potential customers) wanted lower prices and more granular online distribution. Imagine if, in response, the industry had turned to a model that made content completely unaffordable for many in the hopes that a high price/low distribution model would save the day. How would that have worked out?
In the case of the music industry, companies that created new ways of doing business, with an eye toward customer satisfaction as an important component to their business model, survived and indeed flourished. The opportunity for NYT may involve some nominal online subscription fees, but more likely exists in the development of a new paradigm for reaching the vast and as yet untapped online advertising potential. That online advertising hasn’t worked for NYT to this point just means just that - not that it won’t or can’t.
It’s not time (not that it ever will be) to drop the for fee online subscription bomb.