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Doc Searls: NY Times Doesn't Know How to Maximize Value of Its Archives

On Sunday, Doc Searls took The New York Times to task for launching "Topics of the Times", another attempt to monetize its article archive. Doc is right that as long as the current Times stories are free, portions of their archives that can only be accessed for a fee are of dramatically less value. Doc said, "{Times columnist Tom} Friedman's authority only goes up as more and more people can link to him. It is not increased one bit when a few suckers shell out $4.95 for stuff nobody else can see."

Some people who work for CTDATA subscribe to WSJ.com, the web site for the Wall Street Journal where most of the content is reserved for paying customers. We do not feel the same way about WSJ.com as we do about the New York Times. WSJ.com is one of the few truly profitable pay-for-content media sites. We think this is because they began service under that model and they have been fairly consistent in their approach.

The New York Times should be as consistent as the Wall Street Journal has been in implementing their web publishing model. The best way for the Times to charge for archives would be to provide value-added archive research tools for a fee, but make the stories themselves free. Then, web publishers could link to Times content without any second thoughts, and the value of Times content would be that much greater.

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