NYT pay what?!

The New York Times,  the newspaper of all newspapers, chose St. Patrick’s Day to embark on its second attempt to charge for its online content. In Canada, the paywall went into effect March 17. For the rest of the world, the wall goes up March 28.

Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said the new digital subscriptions were “an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform.”

The Times has tried to charge for content before. That experiment, known as TimesSelect, proved a bruising lesson for The Grey Lady. Far from making money, the move largely withdrew the paper from online conversations, as bloggers and other opinion makers stopped linking to and writing about stories behind the paywall. The Times quit TimesSelect less than two years later.

If The Times is hoping that things turn out differently this time, it’s going to need an overflowing cupful of St Patrick’s blessings. Felix Salmon in Wired Magazine unpacked the whole subscription deal, and after doing some back-of-the-envelope math, pronounced the whole thing “weird.” Not to mention expensive.

The New York Times paywall cost $40 million to build.

Subscriptions are complex. Your first 20 stories per month are free. As are stories that are linked from off site, such as Facebook, blogs, etc. After that the subscription fee kicks in: $15 per month for unlimited Web access, more if you want to use the smartphone and/or iPhone apps.

“So by my back-of-the-envelope math, the paywall won’t even cover its own development costs for a good two years, and beyond that will never generate enough money to really make a difference to NYTCo revenues,” Salmon said.

But that, in a nutshell, is the fragile state of the journalism world. Even the very best of the very best must make more money from their online ventures. Even if a solid revenue model is not exactly obvious, nor particularly profitable, something must be done to battle the long-term trends, which are clear — revenue from print advertising is falling and unlikely to reverse course; something must cover the shortfalls. If not the Web, then what?

The newspaper world is watching with a sharp eye. Because like California, and the canary in the coal mine, the way of The New York Times foreshadows the direction of the industry as whole.


Photos from outer space

AOL has a flashy little full-screen slide show of photos taken by the Hubble telescope. Gorgeous stuff.

Normally, I would have never even seen something like this, because I use Firefox with Flash Block installed. But recently I switched to Rockmelt, which is the new Chrome-based browser from Marc Andreessen, and I haven’t got around to installing any extensions.

For now, though, I think I am okay without Flash Block.

A different kind of crazy

After reading the first few paragraphs of this article in Slate, I thought surely this is the product of some science fiction writer’s imagination.

Around my son’s first birthday, I started holding my iPhone up to his ear when my wife called and saying, “It’s your mama, Luka. It’s your mama.” Our boy often made cooing sounds in response to her voice.

And when I snapped photos with the phone, I showed them to Luka in the moment. He responded with giddy joy.

We quickly fell into a ritual in which I played a slide show of the photos and video in the phone as I put him to bed. Along with Luka, his mother appeared most often in the photos. Usually, by the second run-through, he would be asleep. Once in a while, when I nodded off first, I woke up to discover Luka tapping the screen to replay the video.

And then one day, about two months later, my iPhone rang. My wife’s name appeared on the screen. Before I responded, Luka called out, “Mama!” I was so surprised—and proud. Evidence of their special bond, right? Soon after, Luka blurted out “Mama” again, while we were all in the living room. But he wasn’t facing his mother. He was facing the phone.

Viewed from the perspective of decidedly low-tech suburban Phnom Penh, life in the developed world looks disturbingly wired. Creepy even.

In a peculiar side note, the author of the article, Eric Pape, is a former Phnom Penh-based journalist. Pape worked at The Cambodia Daily in the 1990s. He co-authored “A Tragedy of No Importance,” an in-depth review of the 1997 grenade attack on Sam Rainsy, and he also helped inspire “Shake Girl,” a graphic novel based on the life of Tat Marina.

Domain name equity

How much is your domain name worth? Ask Stimator to find out. You will probably be knocked off your chair. I certainly was.

  • royalgroup.com.kh = $9,004
  • k4media.com =$12,883
  • johnvink.com = $51,269
  • fcccambodia.com = $1,479,328

And what about heavies from the West:

  • playboy.com = $48,991
  • microsoft.com = $354,262
  • google.com = $369,937
  • nytimes.com =$371,083

To think, the FCC domain is worth more than the New York Times. It kind of makes sense when you think about it. Business is good for the FCC. The New York Times, like newspapers all over, is struggling.

Does Stimator.com’s valuing of domains actually mean anything? Probably not.

More useful is Website grader, a site that offers critical analysis and concrete advice on how to better position your Web site on the Internet.