Friday, September 21, 2007

'Last Gasp of the Circulation Mentality'

If my experience was typical, and I believe it was, TimesSelect was doomed from the start.

I just didn't miss reading the Times' op-ed columnists who were hidden behind the TimesSelect paywall enough to pony up the dough to be able to read them every day. Besides which, I usually still buy the dead tree edition of the Sunday Times. And while it was nice to be able to again catch up with the dingbattery of Mo Dowd and David Brooks when the paywall came down earlier this week, I didn't feel like a kid on Christmas morning or anything.

Jeff Jarvis got it exactly right when he said at Buzz Machine that:

"It was a cynical act doomed from the start. With it goes any hope of charging for content online. Content is now and forever free.

"No one with sufficient experience ever thought that TimesSelect made good business sense. Oh, they talked a good game: It was another revenue stream to balance dependence on advertising, said the spin, . . . It was a tribute to the great value of the Times brand and its unique content ,. . . It was an opportunity to create added value worth added revenue. . . . It was a way to give print subscribers new benefits. Yada-yada-ka-ching.

"Bull. TimesSelect represented the last gasp of the circulation mentality of news media, the belief that surely consumers would continue to pay for content even as the internet commodified news and — more important — even as the internet revealed that the real value in media is not owning and controlling content or distribution but enabling conversation."

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