Careful when you click on those L.A. Times links these days. You get only 15 stories a month, and then they’ll charge you.
John Seiler says they’re trying to commit suicide. The L.A. Times would likely point to the Wall Street Journal as an example of a publication that has successfully gone to a pay model. Here’s the problem as Seiler sees it:
The Journal’s model is succeeding because the Journal offers more than basic news: It offers specialty news, on finances. People will pay money to make money. The’ll also pay money for other specialty news, such as dating and game sites. That model also is working for the Financial Times, which specializes in international business news.
If you’re a bond trader making well into the six figures a year, paying for an FT or Journal subscription is chump change. It provides crucial information you use for your business. Those publications also provide large research files for checking out potential businesses to invest in. But that model doesn’t work for publications that provide news one can get elsewhere.
As to the New York Times, it lost $40 million last year. So why imitate their business model?
There is another problem: the Journal is just a better paper. I know someone who no longer subscribes to the Times, because it infuriates him, while he does subscribe to the Journal, because it’s a good paper and he likes it.
That person is me.
I am far from the only one to have dumped his L.A. Times subscription in recent years, by the way. Seiler has this eye-opening graph. The yellow line represents the L.A. Times‘s plummeting subscription base over time:
And this gets us into the reason people start dumping their subscriptions. I agree with Seiler that part of the problem is that the business model is changing. Kids don’t subscribe to newspapers; people generally seem to think they are entitled to news for free. Seiler also points to the paper’s liberal bias, which I personally don’t think is the reason for their financial problems — but which certainly does alienate the few conservatives in Los Angeles, and which also gives me the chance to piggyback a fine rant onto one of Seiler’s:
And as my colleague Steven Greenhut wrote today, columnist Michael Hiltzik has defended the possibly criminal fraud eco-extremist Peter Gleick perpetrated against the Heartland Institute. Gleick himself has apologized. Yet Hiltzik wrote: “But it’s Heartland, which has tagged Gleick with the epithets above, that should be answering for its nearly three-decade history of corporate shilldom.”
So, Hiltzik says it’s OK for Gleick to perpetuate a fraud. And the Los Angeles Times employes Hiltzik. So why should I believe anything written in the Times?
It’s worse than that, Mr Seiler. In the past, Hiltzik has actually perpetrated a fraud on the public and his readers himself, praising himself under false “sock puppet” names. (In fact, this was revealed by a blogger whose name eludes me for the moment — people tell me he used to be pretty good.) And when the revelation went public, Hiltzik lost his business column, and the editor explained that employing a false name in the manner Hiltzik did was deceptive and could not be tolerated. A great message, except . . .
. . . except that Hiltzik now has that very same column back. In other words, deception is back in style at the Los Angeles Times. And Hiltzik is using his column to promote deceit like Gleick’s — because this particular form of deceit serves his ultra-partisan leftist agenda.
Mmm, that’s quality journalism! Where can I sign up to pay for that kind of reading experience?
It remains to be seen whether the Times is committing suicide. If so, I say more power to them. I like some of the people there, but the institution?
I want it dead.
Thanks to elissa.