Friday, April 08, 2011

845 Time(s) On My Hands

845 Time(s) On My Hands

The current generation of the nearly fished out gene pool that owns the New York Times has established a pay wall for the paper’s website. If, as legend has it, things happen in threes, this is the third “event” in a series and we should be finished with nonsense from that part of 8th avenue, at least for now.

The first two were:

--Building the Ochs Box, a monstrously expensive headquarters building in an era of declining revenue and deserves the Pritzker Award for ugly.

--Selling radio station WQXR.

The paywall is not original with the New York Times. The Wall St. Journal does it. So does Long Island Newsday. And it’s true these papers can’t survive on print ads, coins collected from newsstands and subscriptions, so -- okay, charge us to read.

Presently, at least, the Times is cheaper than the other two papers. A small consolation.

The paywall has been parodied in the Huffington Post. And in public meetings, the Times’ publisher has defended the complex and confusing subscription system with both anger and haughtiness.

An (inter)net result of the change is those of us who cough up the money now will be protecting our investment by reading the site more frequently and more closely.

On a recent morning, we found such fascinating stuff as an in depth look at the fashion statement made by men’s sneakers, a review of the “M. Wells Diner” in Long Island City, Queens, a tour of a house in New Delhi, and obituary for long time governor Ned McWherter of Tennessee.

McWerter was one of the good guys, it seems. But how many Times readers ever heard of him or -- if they did -- cared?

Ah, you say, but this is the stuff that makes the Times the Times.


What makes the Times the times is extensive and detailed reporting, extraordinarily informative headlines, global reach and general reliability. And then, there’s the perception by liberals that it is conservative slanted and by conservatives that it is liberal. Nice. By displeasing everyone, it is doing its job. Also, it is one of only two essential American news sources.

Okay, so they need to raise money. Charge for use? Sure, why not. Just don’t tell us, as you have, that it’s for our own good.

The Grey Lady as poll dancer and streetwalker. Maybe the new building on 8th Avenue wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Location, doncha know.

All this brings to mind a line from a Tom Lehrer song: “Now there’s a charge for what she used to give for free, in my home town.”


--Footnotes to the above: the other “essential news source...” is the Associated Press. The Pritzker thing is considered architecture’s Nobel Prize. The Android smartphone version of the Times’ site likes to crash fairly regularly.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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