52 comments on “The Times

  1. I certainly won’t be subscribing… and can’t see too many others doing so either. What’s the point when there’s always going to be free quality online news?

  2. But assuming you were to get one Thunderer a year wouldn’t it be cost effective?

    I dunno, you’re the economist.

    Or rather, not.

    Tim adds: That’s something I’ve been pondering and I’m not sure what the answer is. Well, actually, I am, sorta….the day job is changing and there’ll be less time for that sort of thing anyway (and less need for the occasional cheque).

  3. It’s still free but you’ve got to register first.

    I popped along to have a look and as far as I can see there is no RSS at all. If an interesting headline popped into my RSS reader and there was a micro-payments facility to pay a few pence to read it I might – just might – throw the occasional few pennies Rupert’s way. But if I can’t even see the headlines….fuck ’em.

  4. If the Telegraph did the decent thing and sacked Heffer and replaced him with Matthew Parris then that would solve a number of problems in one fell swoop. No need to subscribe to the Times and a voice of Tory sanity at the DT.

  5. SCP,

    The only paywall that has worked is the Wall Street Journal which is a whole different kettle of fish to The Times.

    Roger Ebert might have it about right. He’s doing his own little club for movie buffs – a newsletter every week, private forums, advanced notice of his screening events etc and all for $5/year.

    I’d also pay £3-4 per annum to read whatever AA Gill writes. But I’m not going to pay £1/week to get that + a whole load of Polly Filler columnists.

  6. A dissenting view – but since earning my living depends on it, I shall advance it. Journalism costs money. Interviewing, writing, editing, refining arguments, presenting packages of words and images with – increasingly – multimedia content that make those presentations take flight in a way no one imagined just a few years ago are not charitable activities. There is a sense in which that process itself becomes intellectual property and, like with any intellectual property, if you want it, you can pay for it.

    From my point of view (inside Wapping), I don’t know for sure if the pay wall is going to work, though my hunch (supported by something today on the Media Guardian, btw) is that the level of take-up will surprise the doubters. I also think the model will be simplified – we’re just trying this thing…but we will get there.

    We all know papers are dying and mourn them even as we work through the months and years that are left, but many of us yearn to make the jump to a wholly digital world. It may not come in the time I have left, but it will come. Again, developing iPad apps and the programs for the e-readers we will all eventually use is not a process that is ever going to be free for the consumer. And why should it be?

    Rant over – you can all throw rocks now.

  7. The great Redacto has a very valid point, that journalism costs money and newspaper men have just as much right to charge for their wares as the next trade.

    However, where this fails for me is that the Times is a paper I would rarely buy. They make a little revenue from me if I click on it through advertising. But these days, I am hard pressed to find any British newspaper that I would be willing to pay for consistently. Certainly not the Telegraph, nor the Mail. The Guardian and Independent don’t appeal, so if I can’t cherry pick the odd story I probably won’t bother.

    Having an payment method which takes this into account might be an option, but equally the risk is that many will just opt out altogether.

    This might open up the market for the news services we have already been willing to pay for – TVand Radio – to make more indepth news and current affairs programs and for maybe a little more competition to the BBC’s web output which has a distinctly ‘left of centre’ flavour.

    I watch the results with interest..

  8. Nick
    Couldn’t agree more. Heffer is the worst thing about the Telegraph – as bad as Toynbee in the Grauniad.
    I’ve no intention of paying for the Times online when there are so many other sources of news.

  9. Look, there’s a problem. And the problem is the Telegraph. If it’s got to go (and probably it does, given that they’re still publishing Mary Riddell, and what’s more they don’t seem to have much of a care for the national interest), then one’s not left with much choice apart from the Times.

    Maybe its at this point that we a) cancel our dead-tree subscription to the DT, and b) sign up to the electronic Times and c) buy a Kindle.

  10. The Times is making a mistake. For too long the newspapers have been able to charge us for their papers and then charge advertisers for the fact that we read them. This is odd.

    Given we, the readers, give the papers the value they need to charge advertising, they need to treat us better. Clearly they need to copy radio and go over to paying us to read them. Radio often hands out prizes as rewards for those that can be bothered to ring in. So I would suggest that instead of charging us for it, the Times should not only be free but also come with a free lottery ticket.

    They can then concentrate on lowering their overheads to make sure their costs don’t out strip advertising revenue and everything will be fine.

  11. I actually think it’s a worthwhile experiment—and the new websites look SO much better too. But yes, it fundamentally comes down to my not wanting to put money in Kaletsky’s pocket, so I doubt I’ll be subscribing.

  12. I wasnt actually aware till now it was a paywall, i just though i had to register to view the website, i didn’t bother, i just deleted it from my favorites folder.

    Good luck getting anyone to pay.

    It does however raise the question of the BBC’s website and how it’s skewing things.

  13. Bugger Murdoch and his call on our pockets.

    As a Yankee swine he can go sink in a bucket of oil and drown.

  14. the great redacto,

    Why do newspaper people think iPad apps are the future? Is it because they’re a very similar model to the old newspaper one which was so profitable?

  15. @Tim Almond

    iPads today; something else tomorrow or the next day. The important thing is that people pay for what we do. I should think that reading devices will be given away with subscriptions in a few years.

  16. Unlike you fellows I bought a subscription. Rather a surprise to find they’d given Richard Murphy a bi-weekly column. Still, he seemed convincing and I’ve nought to disabuse that notion…

  17. the great redacto,

    You might not like the income that you’re getting from the free model, you might ask us all to pay, but we can choose to go elsewhere and leave the Times content as unviewed and unlinked.

    I should think that reading devices will be given away with subscriptions in a few years.

    Again, that’s just a view based on old models of selling a whole newspaper. That model worked for paper because you had to provide a digest of information covering a variety of topics. People couldn’t select their own stories from a number of sources. Unfortunately for the Times, they can now. You’re offering me news which I have to hope is of value over a list of stories from elsewhere in my RSS reader. To do that, you have to provide something pretty damn good, and right now, The Times just isn’t that good.

  18. My local baker used to give away loaves for free, but now they’ve started charging. That’s the last time I eat their bread, the bastards.

  19. The only way to make money from putting content behind a pay wall online is to provide original content that people can’t get elsewhere, as I suspect The Times will soon learn, to its bitter cost.

    Realistically, The Times are offering the same kind of news and commentary online as every other newspaper and not a few dedicated online news sites, because this is what newspapers do: they offer multiple choice versions of the same thing.

    While I certainly see The Times’ point – they have salaries to pay and costs to cover, etc – I think they are being dreadfully naieve in believing that they can charge money for the same things that everyone else is giving away free.

    Still, we shall see 🙂

  20. the great redacto says:

    “Journalism costs money. Interviewing, writing, editing, refining arguments, presenting packages of words and images with – increasingly – multimedia content that make those presentations take flight in a way no one imagined just a few years ago are not charitable activities. There is a sense in which that process itself becomes intellectual property and, like with any intellectual property, if you want it, you can pay for it.”

    Well, speaking as an ex-broadsheet reader of many years I gave up on both the Times and the Telegraph some time ago as providing little more than cut ‘n’ paste press releases from various pressure groups.

  21. @redacto

    Yes REAL journalism costs money, and people deserve to be paid for their talents.

    The analogy is though that once the motor car had been invented talented horse drawn coach drivers had to learn to drive a different vehicle.

    You don’t need the newspaper its only a route to market, a delivery mechanism. It’s no longer needed. Get yourself a blog, get yourself a readership following, take advertising treble your earnings….simple

    EF Schumacher was right ” Small is beautiful, economics as if people mattered”

  22. Yes, yes, but comment (blogging) is free, whereas what we do costs money. I’m glad to see that no one has advanced the argument that the BBC is free, btw.

    It may well be that the money eventually comes via the internet from sources other than paywalls but the commercial news organisation aren’t there yet. We have to find ways of reaching out and turning a dollar. Put any sensisble ideas on a postcard to R Murdoch and Son.

  23. I appreciate journalism costs money. I appreciate that reporters and journalists have to be paid for.
    Did anyone beg Mr Murdoch to put The Times and Sunday Times online???????????

    I’ve got a website (by choice) but I don’t expect anyone else to pay for it.

    Murdoch had a pop at google accusing them of theft for showing links to Times website content. Doesn’t the money grabbing halfwit know that RSS feeds do exactly the same thing?
    If I owned google, I would remove all links to The Times website and put an explanation instead that Mr Murdoch wants all of the bonny marbles and life’s not like that.
    News media are going to end up going down the same road as the music companies…..hounding people for sharing newspapers without paying for them.

    Times they are a changing and I’m afraid newspaper companies aren’t exempt from this. They have to come up with new ideas to maintain and gain new readers. What have they done lately what they weren’t doing 30 years ago? Nothing.

  24. The only Times I buy is the Sunday one.

    They won’t be getting a subscription from me. I will miss being able to comment on articles but it won’t be the end of the world.

    I hope their advertising revenue takes a nosedive.

  25. Will gladly not pay to read the Times, but would pay to see Giles Coren, Hugo Rifkind et al., on the breadline with Caitlin Moron.
    Danny Finkelstein/Camilla Cavendishy honourable exceptions to their lineup of shit pundits.

  26. Tim,

    Personally, I’d fire the chairman for having adopted what time has shown to have been a clearly defective business model, as evidenced by having to reposition the business away from free content and towards what is very clearly the necessity of registration and subscription.

    Seriously, I do wish Rupert, Jimbo and their panjandrums weren’t so far up themselves. They do not seem to get one pays for access to everything on the Internet. You have to pay for your ISP, you have to pay for your PC, and you have to pay your electricity bill. We all pay enough to access Internet content without being sermonised to by a slightly more upmarket version of Steptoe and Son about how everything in life has a cost. All very early 19th Century, if you ask me.

  27. There are odd columns – Clarkson/Parris – which are very good on the Times. However £1 a day is too much to pay for so little content. Fractions of a penny from a prepaid subscription sum would at least get me to open my purse.

    I admit I would rather read the Times than the BBC website, but I could live without either.

    I sub longterm to the Economist, and have every intention of renewing for another 3 years when the sub falls due. Their website is free to subscribers, however the paper copy can be read on the plane and in the bath. If I drop it or lose it, its not the end of the world. Im not so sure I want my news exclusively delivered on a fragile, unwaterresistant, costs me real money, device with a breakable screen and which has a resale value to an enterprising thief.

  28. Every subscription to the Times pushes The Guardian closer to the grave.

    Worth subscribing solely for that reason, no?

    MartinKelly:

    “They do not seem to get one pays for access to everything on the Internet. You have to pay for your ISP, you have to pay for your PC, and you have to pay your electricity bill.”

    They ‘get’ that very well. They also ‘get’ that not all electrons have the same value, and a flat rate for access doesn’t realise the intrinsic value of those electrons.

    Unless you want the Government to set that value, you’d better get your wallet out.

  29. @Davidb

    I agree—I’d be very happy to pay on a micropayment basis for AA Gill’s column and reviews. Hugo Rifkind, not so much…

  30. The Drudge Report has removed the link for the Times on that, the largest news and current affairs site in America. In a few monts visitors to it who are not British will not even know there is a Times newspaper.

  31. Andrew,

    ‘They also ‘get’ that not all electrons have the same value, and a flat rate for access doesn’t realise the intrinsic value of those electrons. ‘

    I’m sure that those clued in, wired up, creatively facial haired, fast talking, slow walking, Dolce and Gabbana bespectacled, square toed slip on shoe wearing, dressed down, moving and shaking thrusters at Newskorp realise the ‘intrinsic value’ of their electrons; pity you don’t seem to realise when you’re talking nonsense, for your comment reads like No. 14 from The Corporate Apologists’ Slogan Grab Bag. I’ve found more profound insights in Christmas crackers. What are you trying to say? I’m not an economist, and therefore must be of mean intelligence and in need of direction. I only qualified as a solicitor. Educate me.

    TNB,

    Gill is the only reason I buy the ‘Sunday Times’, and feel cheated when he isn’t in it.

  32. “The important thing is that people pay for what we do”

    Important to you perhaps, I’m sure you’ve got a mortgage and other expenses etc. But that’s not really relevant to me is it?

    “I’m glad to see that no one has advanced the argument that the BBC is free, btw”

    I don’t have a TV, so I don’t have a licence. I can still access a lot of BBC News programs via iPlayer and of course, the BBC online news content.

    So for me, it is free.

  33. John Galt,

    Did you not notice the words on the iPlayer saying that if you watch programmes that way you still need a licence?

    Why should I subsidise you (through my paying a licence fee) to watch BBC programmes for free?

  34. “£1 a day”

    For real?

    That’s more than my broadband bill, that’s far to much for online content.

    How much does the paper version cost?

    “I’m glad to see that no one has advanced the argument that the BBC is free, btw”

    Well, forced subscription is more accurate.

    “Why should I subsidise you (through my paying a licence fee) to watch BBC programmes for free?”

    The correct answer is that no one should be forced to pay it. I don’t actually agree with the BBC putting up free content on the net, one of the reasons being that a tv licence should be just that.

    “the great redacto”

    Maybe news agentcies will have to get used to the idea of no longer being multi million pound agencys, maybe not.

    You can make all the moral arguments you want about bills having to be payed, but no one cares.

    When i buy a car or a TV i don’t care about who’s bills i am paying, so why do you expect me to care about yours?

  35. The TV tax is, sooner or later, going to vanish.
    The State Propaganda Broadcaster will, hopefully, have to get into the real, non feather-bedded world and live by the rule of the market.

  36. I don’t mind having to pay a licence if this licence is purly to fund the infrastructure (well i do mind paying for anything but it’s “fairer).

    I do mind having to pay for the BBC itself.

    With the infrastructure funded or at least subsidised, if done properly it ensures that there will always be some kind of impartial news coverage, which is pretty much all that matters.

  37. Andrew,

    Every subscription to the Times pushes The Guardian closer to the grave.

    Worth subscribing solely for that reason, no?

    No. If you want to put the Guardian closer to the grave, you start a job site aimed at public sector recruitment and try to take some of their business.

  38. It’s not the costs of journalism that’s the problem. Guido, for example, makes a reputed £50k per annum per year, and I imagine many more jornoa will achieve that in time. The problem is the cost of the managment overhead and their inflated £100k+ salaries.

    The other problem is content. Most traditional newspapers across the west have, to varying degrees, parted company with their readership, preferring to push their politically correct agenda and reprinting press releases rather than indpendent facts and what people want to read. Anybody who wants to criticise Islam, for example, is ostrasised or even prosecuted and the mainstream press has no issue with censorship they agree with (e.g. Geert Wilders in Holland) whilst not realising that one day the censor will come for them. If they call ordinary people extremist just for being concerned about immigration, it’s unsurprising then that decreasing numbers of ordinary people want to buy their output in whatever format.

  39. “£50k per annum per year”?

    I think that clinches the point I was making yesterday about editing and refinement. Hey ho.

  40. it’s quite easy – give me something for my money

    make it worth my while to pay £2 a week to read the Times.

    as someone else says on this thread – if the Times is only going to offer what the other online papers offer for free then why should I waste £2 a week (or a £1 a day) on subscribing to the Times.

    The ball is in your court rupert

  41. You fucking thick twat.

    Don’t you realise that if you weren’t buying it before, you shouldn’t have been getting it before.

    I am totally royally fucked off with buying a daily paper, a tradition in this country for generations, to have some fucking spongers expecting all their news to be ‘free’.

    Wake up and smell the fucking coffee – those bureaux in Baghdad and Beijing don’t pay for themselves.

    Or just read the fucking Metro, as that seems about your level.

  42. MartinKelly:

    Easy, lad.

    Imagine a city where a one time charge allows you to access any restaurant in the town, whether it’s three spicy wings at KFC (real world price: 1.49) or a banquet at a four star Gordon Ramsey establishment (costing say, a hundred and fifty quid). The charge neither reflects people’s willingness or ability to pay, nor the value of the food on offer.

    The value of internet content is not reflected since the market – if you can say it exists at all – is in its infancy. Instead, we have an “access market”, ie ISPs, that’s currently worth about $275bn a year globally. As you point out, that gets you all the content you can eat, whether it’s low value prattle, or free first run movies. It also means very light users (who may do little more than IM or receive pictures of the grandchildren, and don’t download films or music or read the papers) should subsidize people who fill their boots with high value material (and who are typically not only able, but quite happy to pay more).

    Since markets are quite good at meeting sellers and buyers, and putting a price on these desires, the internet will eventually reflect this. The Times is attempting to price its content, and stop giving it away for nothing. We may agree it has priced it too high, but it is an experiment, and it’s easier to start high and cut the price, than start too low and raise it.

    Now if you weren’t so ready with the colourful metaphors and ad homs, you’d see this.

  43. Blow it out of your jacksie, Andrew, Having recently hit 40, being described as ‘lad’ is the sort of patronising treatment I prefer to dispense to others, not receive myself.

  44. Pingback: The Times « Doctor Huw

  45. After I hit 40, Martin, I was very happy to described as a lad.

    Would you prefer “touchy old git”, then?

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