Scripting News: I had to get a NYT Digital Subscription to figure out what’s wrong.

Yesterday I posted a tweet with some feedback for the NY Times marketers.

Getting a NYT Digital Subscription should open up something new and wonderful that I can kvell about. #freeadvice

I sent the link to Jay Rosen, my former colleague at NYU, and he said I had to write a blog post about this. Here it is.

After years of hearing about paywalls from the Times, I’ve mostly been able to read the articles I wanted. I have many avenues into the site. All the links from my river work. When I see a link on Twitter, I can click on it. It’s only when I want to go from one of those articles to another that the paywall stops me.

I’ve long felt I should go ahead and subscribe, but I found the special offer of 99 cents for the first 90 days to be insulting. They make a product that’s for smart people. Sheez, it’s not as if we’re going to cancel after 90 days, and btw we know that it’s hard to cancel these things. When you enter your credit card info and click Submit, you more or less have signed up for life. Right??

I decided to subscribe, finally, because I would like to wander around the site unimpeded by the paywall. I wondered what that would be like.

I read a lot of books and watch movies, and I think of the Times reviewers as authoritative, and their reviews go back many decades. So I’d like to be able to wander around their Arts section. Wandering seems to be the key idea. Here’s a site that has a lot of stuff I’m interested in, and it’s been many years since I’ve been able to wander freely through it. I imagined it might be wonderful.

I can tell you, a few days later, my life has not changed. I still use the site the same way I did before I paid.

I want to kvell about how wonderful it is to have a NYT Digital Subscription, but I don’t have any great ideas about how to use this vast resource of information that’s now fully open to me. I want to love it more, but I don’t know how.

From their point of view — what a missed opportunity! I have 63K follower on Twitter. If I said “Hey this is great, I never knew what I was missing,” that might not make anyone subscribe, but it might get a few to think about it. The wall of resistance has only so many bricks. Every time one is removed you get closer to a sale.

If you’re going to have digital subscibers you have to think like digital marketers. Think of the Times as a vast palace of entertaining information for people with active minds. How can you make that more accessible in ways that will make a difference for people with the new ability to freely roam the site.

Then you’ll have something.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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