August 7, 2007

At the NY Times, One Wall Reportedly to Come Tumblin’ Down

That would be the TimeSelect firewall at the contracting New York Times, according to a report by its growing rival, the New York Post:

The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.

….. The number of Web-only subscribers who pay $7.95 a month or $49.95 a year fell to just over 221,000 in June, down from more than 224,000 in April.

Not that it was a particularly insightful prediction, but yours truly wrote the following in November 2005 (first item at link), when the Times announced it had reached 135,000 online TimeSelect subscribers (current print subscribers get TimeSelect access free of charge):

I don’t see TimesSelect getting past double the current paid level, even over the long haul, because I expect drop-offs to about equal add-ons after the first-year buildup.

That post also linked to and excerpted a now-unavailable story at Editor & Publisher that, two years, later, makes it very clear that the Times has not accomplished the goals it set for itself with TimeSelect:

….. NYTimes.com has offered a number of piecemeal premium services in the past, but in aggregate they only brought in a couple million dollars a year. The ambition is to have a much larger revenue stream.

He’s looking for significant numbers. The goal won’t be met with TimesSelect subscription numbers in the tens of thousands, (NY Times Digital President) Nisenholtz says; it needs to be in the hundreds of thousands in the early years, and even more over the long term.

The Times didn’t even get close to double what they had in late 2005. The drop-off reported in the Post indicates that whatever growth was going to occur is over. Further, there is reason to believe that students and others entitled to deeply discounted rates may make up a more-than-minor large percentage of the current 221,000-plus subscribers, meaning that the Times is in all likelihood getting no more than, and probably quite a bit less than, $10 million a year from TimeSelect (if everyone was paying $50, it would be just over $11 million). That’s a relative pittance.

Times columnists were among those who, according to the Post, agitated for the change. I don’t blame them — Seriously, has anyone missed the ability to read Mo Dowd and Paul Krugman for free during the past almost-two years? Times writers were deliberately taken out of the national conversation by their short-sighted management. It must be difficult to see your relevance diminish with each passing column.

I suppose the Times walled-off columnists believe they believe they’ll have more influence on the upcoming presidential election attempt to coronate Hillary Clinton once the TimeSelect firewall is gone. They’re probably right, but it may backfire: I’d say it’s just as likely that the more ordinary readers are re-exposed to the dreck emanating from the likes of Dowd, Krugman, Frank Rich, et al, the more turned off they’ll be towards anyone they (the columnists) have favorable opinions of.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (080707)

Without citing specifics, because there are too many examples, it’s amazing how lenders are catching all of the blame for subprime loans going bad, when, as noted here back in February, it’s “government sponsored enterprises” (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that lowered the bar on what they were willing to buy and securitize. Specifically, quoting that post (first bullet near the end):

Those two GSEs lowered the credit scores and relaxing related documentation standards for “conventional” and sub-prime mortgages to the point where clearly unqualified borrowers were getting “conventional” treatment and borrowers who barely had a pulse credit-wise were getting sub-prime applications approved. A contact of mine in the lending industry told me in mid-2005 that the threshold for conventional approval was lowered from a credit score of about 670 to about 630, and for sub-primes dropped from about 630 to 590.

“590″ is a credit score that, when translated, means “accident waiting to happen.”

Though lenders aren’t blameless, I don’t doubt for a minute that there was a mentality that said, “If we don’t approve this loan, we know that the guy down the street will, and it’s Fan’s or Fred’s problem after we sell it.” Fan and Fred are getting no grief for having relaxed standards too much. They deserve lots of it.

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Deposed Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli’s appointment to head Chrysler by its new private owners may not be the disaster it appears to be. In theory at least, a private-company board of owner-directors should ensure that there isn’t a misalignment between shareholder and management interests. But if everyone’s in it to gut the company (not inconceivable, given Nardelli’s appointment and well-known history), look out below.

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The (New York) Times, it is a-shrinking. So are the company’s ad revenues.

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A boo-boo by BOOHOO (Barack Overseas “O-bomba” Hussein “Obambi” Obama) has consequences (HT Michelle Malkin). Of course, stories about the protests in Pakistan are almost non-existent in the US press (rare exceptions here and here).

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Speaking of boo-boos, this is a really bad ad move by Intel (HT Plunderbund), which it has apologized for. It looked to me like a white guy enjoying his dominance over 6 slumped-over, exhausted black men, almost as if a slave master. Believe it or not, they’re supposed to be sprinters posting in starting-line position, which I didn’t “get” until I read it.

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Japan Today reports that a “Nissan car catches drunk drivers through sweaty palms.”

A JT commenter wryly observes, “Nice try — The theory is that drunks will be too drunk to remember to wear their drinking gloves.”

Positivity: Police praise hero for saving toddler’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:06 am

From Christchurch, New Zealand:

Monday, 6 August 2007

Christchurch police are describing the actions of a man who saved a toddler from the jaws of a staffordshire-cross dog and then gave her first aid as nothing short of heroic.

Two-year-old Aotea was playing at Jellie Park, in the suburb of Burnside, with three other children, all aged between four and nine when the dog began to maul her, about 11am.

Golf course superintendent Peter Macintosh was with his eight-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter at the park when he heard some screaming from the other side of the park.

” I then heard my daughter scream – a scream you never want to hear – and she just said ?run dad run’,” he said today.
Mr Macintosh sprinted 200m towards the noise, still unaware of what he was running towards when he saw the dog with Aotea in it’s mouth, shaking her “like a ragdoll”.

“I realised what type of dog it was – I jumped straight on top of it. It was too strong for me to praise it’s jaws open so I didn’t, I just went straight for the windpipe of the dog and tried to choke it.”

The dog’s neck was too thick for Mr Macintosh to get his hands around properly, so he dug his fingers into the dog’s windpipe in an effort to get it to drop the girl.

Mr Macintosh said he did not have a clue why he took that particular action.

“Obviously something I had seen or heard somewhere, but it eventually worked and the dog let her go and the sister of the wee girl pulled her out and took her up to a park bench while I held the dog down.”

The dog, a Staffordshire cross, is believed to have escaped from its nearby property when it attacked the girl.

Another person then arrived on the scene and took over holding the dog down while Mr Macintosh applied first aid to the toddler and comforted her until an ambulance arrived. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.