I had a pretty strong feeling the announcement was coming when I wrote the piece about the Times paywall yesterday.
Now that I've had a chance to read the actual announcement, here's the problem. They're not offering anything to readers other than the Times' survival, and they're not even explicit about that.
Wouldn't it have been wise to, at this juncture, offer something to sweeten the deal. Something truly exciting and new that you get when you pay the money. Something that makes your palms sweat and your heart beat faster?
I put down $700 last week to get a few minor improvements to my iPad. If they had said "Give us $700 so we can survive," well, I might have done it. But I feel better about getting the new features.
The biggest feature: The new one is white and the old one is black. What a racket Apple has. But I pay willinglly. No one is forcing me to. I think.
The mistake is not viewing this from the other end of the communication pipe. Listen to to the pitch from the other guy's point of view. This is the same thing NPR fails to do in their pledge drives. I suppose it's in the nature of the old way of doing news. Our job is to appreciate and pay and their job is to inform and be paid. Of course even NPR would acknowledge that isn't how news works anymore. Maybe even some people at the Times would, today. More will in the future.
Now would have been a very good time to turn the formula around, show a little vision beyond "We need this to survive."
I'd like to hear something that makes me believe they are excited about the future news, and are translating that excitement into thoughtful new products.
On the other hand, they did something smart in not charging readers who get to a Times story through a link from a blog post or tweet. But -- since I am a frequent linker, I wonder why I should pay to read their site, when I'm delivering flow to them. How does that equation balance by me paying them? Maybe they should pay me? Seriously. I have a need to survive too.
As always comments are on the record and for attribution. I am editor of Scripting News, visiting scholar at NYU in journalism, and a leading software developer.