Sunday, November 16, 2008

Requiem for my New York Times home subscription

Well, all thanks to Pajamas Media for publishing my little op-ed, A Requiem for the My New York Times Home Delivery. And thanks, too, to Glenn for the Instalanche - and welcome to anyone who is coming over from PJM. You probably see not much activity here. True. For various reasons, I’ve been blogging less and when I do, it is almost exclusively over at the international law blog Opinio Juris.

However, I did want to note something about the New York Times piece. To judge by the comments, PJM readers believe it is about the politics of the Times.  It is - but mostly it isn’t.

I don't mind partisanship in a magazine. I am even willing to read partisanship of the "who you going to believe, the NYT front page or your lyin' eyes" kind because I want to know what is said across the spectrum; subsidizing it as such doesn’t especially disturb me.  

I'm even willing to read a paper that has decided it's business model of the future is Judith Warner, so long as I don’t have to spend more than nanoseconds on her. But I'll only do it for free.  I won't pay 50 dollars a month for it, because I don't think the Times values the content at that price, at least not discounted into the future.  

What am I doing with the 50 bucks a month? I’m contributing it to my teen Kid’s Sharebuilder stock account - she can figure out what to invest it in. I’ve told her I’ll match anything she puts in from babysitting, dealing drugs, running guns, etc. If nothing else, she’ll learn a valuable lesson in the effects of taxes as urged by the New York Times and channeled by the Obama administration on incentives to save and invest.

I should also mention that I have many friends at the Times, and I am not thrilled with what I foresee as their economic future - due far more than it should be to the mismanagement and self-dealing of the family shareholders at the Times. There have been very interesting comments on the latest SEC filings by the Times company. Also the Very Great Megan McArdle’s take. I’m sorry, folks, but while I’d be happy to dance on the Sulzberger grave, I have too many friends at the Times to wish them ill.

But all this is very different from saying what the commentators mostly say, which is, ‘liberal rag, cancel’.

My point was, instead: Going online for free puts me in the position of valuing the New York Times in the same way and at the same price, at least into the long term, that the Times values me. We have reached a free and equal bargain - I don’t pay for home delivery, and it delivers the kind of product you can pay for with the online ad revenue stream, which is to say, Judith Warner and the “nurse ant tending to the slumbering larvae,” as I put it in the op ed.

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