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July 06 2011

20:00

Another perk for NYT subscribers: “Share your access”

Are you a New York Times subscriber? Are you related to one? If so, today’s your lucky day: The Times, in an email just sent out to print subscribers, is announcing that subscribers will now be able to share their digital access with a family member of their choosing. Think of it as the Frank Rich Discount, bring-a-plus-one edition. (The Times is also offering the deal to digital-only types who subscribe to the most expensive, $35-every-four-weeks package.)

It’s an interesting move. For one thing, it’s another way for the Times to differentiate its price points, which for digital-only are currently $15 for web and smartphone app, $20 for web and tablet app, or $35 for web, smartphone, and tablet. That $35 top-tier item has always seemed a little high next to its peers, and bringing this sharing mechanism only to those subscribers could give another reason for some to pony up.

But, more interestingly, the move shifts the calculus of the NYT’s porous paywall, for which the locus of subscription has been a single person. In print, a family was able to share the paper among husband and wife, son and daughter — maybe even with a neighbor. Digital subscriptions, with their logic of one-subscription-per-person, reframed that community ethos: When the paper rolled out its pay meter, its core consumer became the individual, not the group.

So while today’s share-a-subscription move may be a way, of course, for the Times to collect more email addresses and other user data, and to build its user base, and to encourage Times subscribers to sync up their print and their digital accounts…it’s a move that also seems aimed at recapturing some of the communal aspects of paper subscription and consumption — just on a digital plane. (I’m sure the Times would love nothing more than to spark a few intra-family squabbles over who gets to share Mom’s digital access.)

And its language announcing the new policy bears that out. As of today, the Times stresses, digital subscribers can share digital access with a family member — not a friend, not a coworker, not an acquaintance, but an actual relative. “Now you can share your All Digital Access with a family member at no additional charge,” the email says. Click on the link included in the email, and you’re sent to a “Share All Digital Access” page that, though fairly sparse, repeats the term “family member” three times.

And in the Shared Access FAQ, the “family member” count jumps to seven.

Which is curious, since the invite page uses a text field that could be filled in with the name and email address of anyone, family or no. (Dear Colin Firth: You don’t know me, and we’re not related. But I’ve got a New York Times Digital Access invite with your name on it…)

And leaving aside the pesky philosophical questions (what is family, really?), what the move also means is that people who are already NYT subscribers, as of today, have been granted one of the more powerful perks of the early adopters: invitations to a fairly exclusive party. (You didn’t have to be on Twitter the day Google+ rolled out to appreciate the sway of the phrase “I’ve got invites.”) Which is a nice thing for the paper’s existing subscribers — and a nice incentive for more people to join their ranks.

June 28 2010

06:56

JAMES DAO, THE NEW YORK TIMES AND WHY YOU WILL PAY FOR UNIQUE REPORTING

NYT JAMES DAO

Yesterday’s New York Times front page story was a “tour de force” and a reminder of how it pays to invest in real reporting.

While the Afghanistan war coverage normally gets hidden by the usual “big news” of the day (England exits the Soccer World Cup, the last Lady Gaga silly provocation or the G20 staged event where thousands of recording-journalists play the sources game), James Dao, The New York Times national correspondent starts his dramatic “A Year at War” chronicles.

A one year coverage that starts now but will continue on print and on line.

With pictures and videos that you will not forget.

battalion-jp1-popup

Welcome to the real world.

Welcome to real journalism.

That’s The New York Times as its best.

Investing in new narratives in a very moving way.

Just read the comments and you will realize how powerful is the story.

Or the “reader submitted” pieces, like this one.

Kudos to the multimedia team that includes the reporting skills of James Dao; the photography and videography of Damon Winter and Rob Harris; the production of Gabriel Dance, Nancy Donaldson, Catrin Einhorn, Andrew Kueneman and Meaghan Looram.

And this is not enough for you, just read Frank Rich’s fabulous “The 36 Hours That Shook Washington” column with a devastating indictment to the Washington press corp.

This Sunday edition was, believe me, a “collector’s issue” or a textbook about the journalism of the future.

Not about gadgets, technology, magic tricks, branding, and other disturbing distractions.

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