From The Ground Up

Fwd: Engineering, startups and life

Why Advertising Won’t Make The Internet Free (As In Beer)

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I’m all for new/interactive/social media, but The New York Times’ symbolic fall from the S&P 500 is bittersweet. In addition to being an institution of the publishing world, and an authority on English writing (winner of 104 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization),  The New York Times in my opinion also publishes some of the most thorough and innovative content on the web. In fact, I would say that the breadth and depth of the stories, opinions, videos, and interactive features NYT publishes is unrivaled.

From Technology to Travel, Style to Science, and everything in between, all is well-written and often accompanied by beautiful and innovative interactive features, visualizations, or videos. The Technology section in particular caught my eye when syndicated content from ReadWriteWeb, GigaOm, and VentureBeat was included and when technology news broke on before sites like TechCrunch. The New York Times continues to be a leader on all topics under the sun.

Nevertheless, (and here’s the bitter part) this has not been enough. NYT bet content over pay walls and that bet has not paid off. The NYT Co. stock has dropped 62% in the past 5 years. Now, it has stated that a metered system will be introduced in Q1 2011.

Frankly, I’m all for it. I’ve said for a long time that there are millions of people, including myself, willing to pay for (some of) the content written and produced by NYT. The Wall Street Journal has used a pay wall for years now with mixed results. I’ve heard the phrase “Advertising makes the Internet free”. In the new publishing world, this has not been the case. We will have to wait to see how The New York Times can fare in this New World.


Which raises an interesting theme regarding the value of information and privacy. Companies/sites such as, and Path (unlike WikiLeaks) place an emphasis on the value of information. What types of information (about you, me, the country or the world) or content should be considered premium and what should be considered free? Free as in beer? Free as in speech?


Written by Girish Rao

December 10, 2010 at 17:30

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Times introducing their foray into digital subscriptions. See my earlier post regarding this issue here. I’ve attached the email below. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { […]

    From The Ground Up

    March 17, 2011 at 11:40

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