The New York Times is facing what can be called a “Baghdad bureau problem.” It supposedly costs some $3 million a year for the Times to operate a Baghdad bureau during the height of our conflict there. In truth, there’s very little in the way of economic rationale for this. The world is moving to digital media, and ads alone will not support these kinds of endeavors. There will be times when its public service mission will require the Times to make decisions that don’t follow strict business logic. The Baghdad bureau is used by Times stalwarts like columnist David Carr to point out the uneven playing field high-quality journalism faces in the curation/aggregation bazaar, where it often seems the middlemen are the ones who make a mint. A year after launching a controversial paywall — make that subscription — plan, The Times is moving to pinch the middlemen even more, announcing it will slash the amount of “free articles” from 20 to 10 for non-subscribers. The Times is choking off other avenues, too, with visitors from “some search engines” reaching an article limit of five per day. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., NYT’s chairman, made the case:
Last year was a transformative one for The Times as we began to charge for digital access to our content. Today, close to a half million people are now paying for digital content from The Times and the IHT. We knew that readers placed a high value on our journalism, and we anticipated they would respond positively to our digital subscription packages. Our commitment to all of our subscribers, both print and digital, is that we will continue to invest in and evolve our journalism and our products, and we will remain a source of trustworthy news, information and high-quality opinion for many years to come.
Read Peter Kafka’s take on the paywall move on All Things D.
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