March 29, 2011

The NYT is "contributing to the digital divide. Absolutely. No question about it."

Said Rush Limbaugh yesterday, at the end of a rant that began by noting that Bob Herbert is leaving the NYT, "with the intent" — in Herbert's words — "of writing more expansively and more aggressively about the injustices visited on working people, the poor and the many others in our society who find themselves on the wrong side of power."

Eventually, after explaining for the 5,000th time that the real cause of poverty is liberalism, Rush got to the subject of the new New York Times pay wall, which means that "The poor will no longer be able to read the New York Times."
It's $35 a month to read their website. Bob Herbert is quitting. Now, some enterprising hackers have found four lines of JavaScript to be able to beat the pay wall. The New York Times spent tens of millions of dollars establishing their pay wall, tens of millions of dollars to pay and keep people from busting it, and four lines of JavaScript have been written that totally bust the pay wall. But the poor don't even know what JavaScript is, so the poor will not even be able to read. 
Well, at least the young/cool people will be able to bypass the pay wall. Maybe that's what the NYT intended. They want their regular home-delivery subscribers to feel they're getting something special and forestall the abandonment of home delivery as people migrate to the internet. (That's what happened to me. I paid for home delivery from 1984 to about 2006, at which point, I noticed I'd been leaving the paper-paper folded up and unread, while I read and wrote on line.) I'm sure some on-line-only readers will pay to get through the wall, and the NYT will make some money from them. Maybe it's worth doing. But I suspect the Times — unless it's a complete idiot — has planned all along for people to work around the wall, because otherwise the drop-off in readership will be horrendous. I think they're hoping to rake in money from a subset of readers while providing free access for anyone who figures out how to get around it and isn't hyper-moral about such things.

James Taranto points to the @freeNYTimes Twitter feed, which you can follow to pick up links to all the new items in the NYT. That's not even bypassing the policy. It was already in the policy that you could get in free if you had a referring link. So there's a referring link for every single thing. It's an uglier point of entry than the front page at the NYT website, which is unfortunate, but not unfortunate enough to make me pay $35 a month for what I've gotten free for years. Now, readers coming over from Twitter will be consuming one of their 20 free page views that the Times gives us each month. I have quit linking to the NYT myself because I feel bad about forcing people to use up their free reads. If there's some news event I want to write about, I start at the Washington Post or some other standard place instead of the NYT. How about all those interesting extra things the NYT talks about — science, culture, commentary? I'm not seeing them, because I'm not looking there anymore. I know I'm missing stuff, but I'm finding other things elsewhere — all because the links consume the free 20!

Taranto has this from the Times Publisher Pinch Sulzburger:
"Can people go around the system? The answer is yes. There are going to be ways... Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free." Oh, so we're not savvy Web users, we're all thieves.

"Is it going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis? No... I don't think so. It'll be mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work."
Ha ha. The kind of people.... How ineffably snooty! Somebody tell Bob Herbert! People who are out of work. Those low-quality people! Note that he isn't saying the Times cares about poor people and intends to let them in free. It's saying losers like that don't want to read the NYT anyway. It's only the people who will pay who are wanted in the first place.

What an embarrassing disaster!

75 comments:

rhhardin said...

Taranto

"Is [paywall jumping] going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis? No," he continued. "I don't think so. It'll be mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work."

Just as illegal immigrants take jobs Americans won't do, Times paywall-jumpers take articles Americans won't read.

bearing said...

Clearly Times publishers need layers of editors and fact-checkers before they open their mouths.

shoutingthomas said...

I gather the Javascript workaround disables the Times' cookie?

Link please?

Probably not that hard to find.

Not that much I want to read on the Times. Occasional article about the Yankees or the Knicks.

MadisonMan said...

Why would poor people not know what JavaScript is?

That argument makes Rush sound incredibly old.

Simon said...

Sulzburger is right. He says: "Is it going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis? No... I don't think so." And that's true, isn't it? People who have astutely and correctly valued the "quality" of the Times' reporting and opinion will not steal the Times: They continue to ignore and read the Washington Post instead.

shoutingthomas said...

Why would poor people not know what JavaScript is?

My guess is that if you know how to write Javascript, you won't be poor for long.

How long this state of affairs will continue is anybody's guess. Yesterday's fabulous scripting language is today's garbage.

I can remember when C++ ruled the world. Where is it now? Displaced, apparently, by Java.

ricpic said...

...after explaining for the 5,000th time that the real cause of poverty is liberalism...

Yes, how tiresome to point out repeatedly that the thing that is KILLING our economy is liberalism, in the hope that someday it may sink in.

shoutingthomas said...

Are poor people clamoring to read the NYT?

I would bet they aren't.

They're probably reading The Post.

E.M. Davis said...

Many people know what javascript is.

Few know how to use it.

Henry said...

If the fix is that easy and that well known it is not going to be any trouble to stop, if the Times cares.

But why shouldn't they charge for their product if they want to?

Maguro said...

The Times has been an embarrassing disaster for years.

tim maguire said...

It's impossible to read the New york Times and not see who their target audience is--the upper tier of NPR listeners.

As any Times advertiser can tell you, if you're not rich and looking for ways to live your conspicuous consumption lifestyle free of the guilt that comes from consuming conspicuously, then they're not interested in you.

MadisonMan said...

Java's days are numbered IMO. Many of the java apps that I use are being replaced by flash, which has a smaller memory footprint.

Thank goodness FORTRAN is still viable :)

Phil 3:14 said...

The poor will no longer be able to read the New York Times.

Now THAT'S sarcasm at its finest.

Simon said...

ricpic said...
"Yes, how tiresome to point out repeatedly that the thing that is KILLING our economy is liberalism, in the hope that someday it may sink in."

Sink in to whom? The people who listen to Rush already agree, and the people who still need to be taught aren't listening.

Bob Ellison said...

Sulzburger spoke poorly, but it is true generally that people who steal your stuff aren't gonna pay for it anyway. All marketers of journalism, movies, music, software, and the like should keep it in mind, especially because the harder and higher you build the pay wall, the more you irritate the paying customers.

A medium-strength wall is best.

Henry said...

By far the strangest part of The Times approach to me is that they don't provide group or institutional subscriptions.

Institutional subscribers are the ones who would pay automatically. Just about any media-focused business would pay for a institutional subscription as would schools, libraries, and arts organizations.

They're missing the easiest marks.

Joaquin said...

@shoutingthomas

"Are poor people clamoring to read the NYT?

I would bet they aren't"

Just like they aren't clamoring to listen to All Things Considered!

J Lee said...

Pinch truly believes he can make the guilty white liberal base of the paper feel guilty about getting the paper free by buttering them up where they're most vulnerable -- in their egos.

The Times marketing campaign has spent the past half-century convincing their target base that simply by subscribing to The New York Times you are a more sophisticated and discerning human being than those who read other publications. Having Dear Leader come out and say that only refined people would pay for the paper's online service is just another way of trying to make that target group feel special.

T J Sawyer said...

"I can remember when C++ ruled the world. Where is it now? Displaced, apparently, by Java."

And that, of course, might have happened because Microsoft thought it could charge $500 for C++ while Java was being distributed for free.

Do we begin to see a pattern here?

rhhardin said...

I never got C++.

Strong typing is for weak minds. - Mike Lesk

ricpic said...

Simon - I can't prove this but I believe a significant part of Rush's audience is the mushy middle. Maybe not regulars but on and off listeners. The mushy middle needs constant reminding to (maybe) get it.

Savage Noble said...

I ran through my 20 views just to see this firewall. It's just a few overlays and a style statement to hide all content that overflows the browser window...that's it! The Times has to know how simple a work around this is...anyone that took a basic online HTML/CSS/Javascript tutorial would know how to bypass it. Heck, I used chrome's built in "inspect element" feature to disable it in around 10 seconds (and basically followed the same steps any script would).

I would guess the Times figures that most people won't dig that deep and just make a wry face, shrug, and walk away...it's the equivalent of a dummy lock.

Bruce Hayden said...

I never got C++.

Strong typing is for weak minds. - Mike Lesk


Arguably, Java is more strongly typed than C++.

I would suggest that C++ was really developed to protect against the sort of abuse that you could practice in C. In C, you could point at almost anything you wanted to, with pretty much any type of pointer, and do whatever you wanted to it. For example, I used to routinely cast an argument list as an array to implement variable length argument lists.

Bruce Hayden said...

"I can remember when C++ ruled the world. Where is it now? Displaced, apparently, by Java."

And that, of course, might have happened because Microsoft thought it could charge $500 for C++ while Java was being distributed for free
.

Was the Java compiler being distributed for free? Or the Java runtime environment that executes compiled Java bytecodes?

And, part of the reason that Flash maybe taking over from Java, is that Sun and Microsoft have been feuding for better than a decade now over Java - and now you need to download an app into Internet Exploder (IE) to execute Java applets.

Amy said...

I just have one thing to add:

Hahaahaaahahahahaaa

T J Sawyer said...

"I used to routinely cast an argument list as an array to implement variable length argument lists."

You wouldn't have had to do that if the university academicians hadn't tried to restrict your rights to "free speech" in the machine. Liberals at work again.

ark said...

Is the Javascript workaround an attempt to circumvent a copy-protection device? Does that make it a criminal offense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

Bruce Hayden said...

Also, keep in mind, there is a big difference between Java and Javacode. Java is a compiled language. A compiler is utilized to compile Java code into applets that comprise computer independent bytecodes (as opposed to most compilers, such as C++, that compile into architecture specific code).

Javascript is a scripting language, which means that it is almost purely interpreted. Small segmets of Javascript are embedded in most HTML (including at least 10 script segments in the HTML used to display this page). It is part of the HTML standard, and is primarily used to render HTML - it primarily does this by writing HTML (which may contain further Javascript segments).

ark said...

@shoutingthomas: Java and Javascript are two unrelated languages that just happen to have "Java" as part of their names.

And Java has been declining in popularity lately, perhaps partly because of uncertainty about its future in the wake of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry, my last post should have started:

Also, keep in mind, there is a big difference between Java and Javascript.

Bruce Hayden said...

I wouldn't totally agree that:

@shoutingthomas: Java and Javascript are two unrelated languages that just happen to have "Java" as part of their names.

I would suggest that they are both related, but they are also both related to C and C++, with C++ and Java probably being the two most closely related.

shoutingthomas said...

@shoutingthomas: Java and Javascript are two unrelated languages that just happen to have "Java" as part of their names.

Since I write both, I'm pretty well aware of this.

The Java vs. Flash thing doesn't seem to be working out the way other commenters say, at least in my experience.

There seems to be a widespread belief (probably untrue) that Flash has a bigger footprint. I know that in several projects I've worked in, the IT gods turned against Flash in favor of Java in the belief that they were creating a lighter app.

I prefer Flash because it is a visual development environment, and thus much easier to program, but I seem to be in a minority here.

Bruce Hayden said...

And Java has been declining in popularity lately, perhaps partly because of uncertainty about its future in the wake of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Or, maybe because of their relationship with Micorsoft.

rhhardin said...

I would suggest that C++ was really developed to protect against the sort of abuse that you could practice in C. In C, you could point at almost anything you wanted to..

That's what (void*) is for explicitly.

It's a deliberate way around the nanny-state.

Oddly, it leads to better code.

bagoh20 said...

"What an embarrassing disaster!"

The fact that you can't get it for free is the very least of the reasons this is true. Like reality TV, so much time spent on such little return.

Jenny said...

I stopped reading Online NYT when they made you "register". May they RIP.

Bruce Hayden said...

Is the Javascript workaround an attempt to circumvent a copy-protection device? Does that make it a criminal offense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

Interesting question, but really moot. What are they going to do, get their favorite AG to indict millions of users? And, since we are talking the Internet here, it would be worthless to go after people who design the workarounds.

Bruce Hayden said...

It's a deliberate way around the nanny-state.

Interesting suggestion. You could look at C++ (and Java) as the nanny state, and C as its antithesis. I am probably like many who spent much time writing in C, I thought that it was great for me, because, I knew what I was doing, was fairly careful, etc. But I saw enough bad and/or dangerous C code that I would want everyone else to have to use C++ or Java.

Fen said...

No more lap dances from Maureen.

*sigh*

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that C was originally developed for systems programming (it was what UNIX is written in), and there you really need to be able to cheat a bit, esp. at the operating systems level. That is because you have to do a bit of bit twiddling and conversion of machine representations into something useful. So, for example, if the OS is going to allocate memory for you, it needs to be able to view the actual memory as essentially vectors of memory, which have to then be chopped up and managed, with portions returned to the users. Hard to do with a true object oriented language, but easy in assembler and C.

Bruce Hayden said...

Getting back to the original post - I would suggest that the problem that the NYT may have is that of the "long tail". They would like to monetize their op eds, to compensate for their declining subscription, and thus presumably advertising, revenues.

But today, more than ever, we are depending on "experts" (such as Ann here) to filter the huge amount of information on the web today, and that means that most of us will be visiting the NYT through links from blogs, etc. of those we trust. The NYT for most of us is just one more source that we might, or usually won't, read articles from.

Maybe their hope was that if enough people saw their stellar collection of columnists, they would come back repeatedly to follow them. But, how many people, who don't already, want to follow MoDo, Friedman, or Krugman? Sure, Taranto probably does, just to pan their columns for the rest of us.

What amazes me is that they spent as much as they did for as little as they got, and then failed to do the sort of analysis beforehand that would have shown the money to be wasted.

Indeed, even if it weren't easy to get around their paywall, I still don't think that it would have paid off. Their columnists just aren't that good, and many are only read by leftist true believers, who probably subscribe already.

Savage Noble said...

@BHayden, ark

Even beyond this, the JavaScript "hack" involves only modifying the HTML once it is displayed in your browser. There is no way for the Times to ever know it was done.

It would be like me sending you a printed news story in an envelope. Once it leaves my hands, I don't know if you opened the envelope to read it or not.

bil_d said...

Someone needs to tell the NYT that When you pursue the irrational, don't be surprised to awaken one day to discover that the world doesn't make any sense..

Ann, you stated: "I think they're hoping to rake in money from a subset of readers while providing free access for anyone who figures out how to get around it and isn't hyper-moral about such things."

That's an interesting twist on honesty (which I believe is a contextual concept), "hyper-moral." Could you explain that one a little more?

DADvocate said...

the kind of people who value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis

As far as I can see, people who value the New York Times are becoming more rare each day.

And, yes, they do show the typical liberal elite snootiness. We're so lucky to have them to take care and oversee the rest of us.

DADvocate said...

BTW - in the small world I work in C++ has been replaced by C# (C sharp).

Joe said...

I work almost entirely in C++ (with a little C#.) I spit on Java (especially since the damn Java Installer became a vector for computer viruses last year.)

Kirk Parker said...

rhardin,

Let's have a battle of the quotes:

"[static typing] means a whole class of errors is guaranteed to be absent from running programs" - Bjarne Stroustrup.

Heh!

Bruce,

That's not quite right: C++ doesn't protect the programmer to wants to do that sort of thing, you can still cast away to your heart's content. Rather, it provides additional mechanisms so you don't need to do that sort of thing nearly so often.

Beth said...

I do not believe that the programming for this paywall costs tens of millions of dollars. There should be some project managers newly out of work among the freeloaders broaching that paywall.

shiloh said...

But today, more than ever, we are depending on "experts" (such as Ann here) to filter the huge amount of information on the web today

Whether AA is an expert or not aside, there's too much news competition on the net for paywalls to be effective ...

I'm still amazed people actually pay for satellite radio.

The Crack Emcee said...

Except for movie reviews and the like, I don't read it, so the pay wall means nothing to me. And for the record, none of my "poor" friends read it either.

roesch-voltaire said...

I thought that the mantra on the right was folks should not read the New York Slime, so this should make Rush happy. Seems like a win/win situation.

Bill Harshaw said...

"Now, readers coming over from Twitter will be consuming one of their 20 free page views that the Times gives us each month"?? My understanding is someone who follow a link from a blog, or I presume Twitter, isn't using one of their 20. From the publisher: "Readers who come to Times articles through links from search engines, blogs and social media will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. "

Sigivald said...

value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis?

I "value" the "quality" of those from the NYT.

I just value them pretty low, because they're not high quality.

Seriously, the level of analysis I find in the Times doesn't exceed that of the AP feed, even on subjects of no particular political import.

Oligonicella said...

"But I suspect the Times — unless it's a complete idiot — has planned all along for people to work around the wall, because otherwise the drop-off in readership will be horrendous."

Too much credit. Large professional software firms get their code hijacked all the time. NYT ain't a LPSF.


shoutingthomas --

"My guess is that if you know how to write Javascript, you won't be poor for long."

Yeah, in the same way that if you speak English you won't be poor long. JS is the bottom of the programming language heap as far as career. You simply need it *along with* others.


Bruce Hayden --

"Was the Java compiler being distributed for free? Or the Java runtime environment that executes compiled Java bytecodes?"

JVM (virtual machine) was free. I had one in '96.

Trooper York said...

The New York Times has it's audience.

Much like endive, arugla and tofu.

Regular people scieve it. Always did. ALways will.

Just another step on their road to bankrutcy.

Issob Morocco said...

Almost as embarassing as blogging about it.

prairie wind said...

I do not believe that the programming for this paywall costs tens of millions of dollars. There should be some project managers newly out of work among the freeloaders broaching that paywall.

Yes. On both points. But you know that the PMs survive almost anything.

Coketown said...

I would agree with Fictitious Sulzberger. Poor people don't read the news, unless they're in it. I'm sure that woman who went ape at the Burger King in Florida called all her friends from jail and told them to find a newspaper, quick, because she's in it.

Trooper York said...

"Went ape?"

Holy shit I haven't heard that expression for I don't know how long.

Thanks I have to use that in a new series of blog posts.

Coketown said...

"Thanks I have to use that in a new series of blog posts."

Ha, please do! It's a great expression, but I think it fell out of favor when everything suddenly became racially charged. "Black woman goes ape?! Racist!"

Trooper York said...

I know but don't worry. The Crack Emcee has a great sense of humor.

Shanna said...

Apparently this paywall thing screwed up my NYTimes phone ap. Uninstall!

Coketown said...

"The Crack Emcee has a great sense of humor."

I could tell that right off. He's one of the only black people I've ever seen almost smile in a picture.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Was the Java compiler being distributed for free? Or the Java runtime environment that executes compiled Java bytecodes?"

JVM (virtual machine) was free. I had one in '96
.

The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is not the Java compiler, but rather, the program that executes the architecture independent Java bytecodes on a specific machine architecture. A Java compiler compiles Java code into Java bytecodes. Thus, you can compile and create applets on one system, and then run them on any system that has a JVM. So, the same Java code can run under Windows, Mac, UNIX, etc.

Matt said...

Just how does Rush define 'liberalism'? Because from the perspective of everyone with a brain 'liberalism' has been part of America since - at least - the mid 1930s and in that time America has flourished.

America is a combination of liberal and conservative ideas with a very strong lean toward capitalism and corporatism vs government control and social programs. But those programs BUILT and maintained THE MIDDLE CLASS. The GI Bill didn't come out of capitalism.

Why does Rush hate America?

Bruce Hayden said...

Yeah, in the same way that if you speak English you won't be poor long. JS is the bottom of the programming language heap as far as career. You simply need it *along with* others.

Let me suggest that this is close, but not completely correct. Javascript is tied very closely to HTML, and if you are going to really program in HTML (instead of just running some sort of HTML editor), then you are going to need to know Javascript. As I noted above, this page uses at least 10 (mostly) very short segments of Javascipt for display.

One of the things that you can do in Javascript is to play with the Document Object Model (DOM) (you can also do it in other languages such as VBA). This is the (mostly) HTML structure behind/underneath a web page. And, also, you can generate HTML (which can contain still more Javascript).

One of the things that is important about the language is that they tried to make it impossible to do anything that would affect your computer outside the rendering of web pages (with the exception of reading and writing cookies).

Finally, while it is basically a fairly simple language (though the DOM isn't as simple), you can do a lot of fairly sophisticated things with it.

shiloh said...

He's one of the only black people I've ever seen almost smile in a picture.

Indeed ~ so true!

Interesting dichotomy: Reps win a wave election in the House and boehner/cantor still can't smile. ;)

The Crack Emcee said...

TrooooPERRRRR!

[Making chocking gesture]

LOL!

Smilin' Jack said...

Steve Jobs has this to say about Java:

"Java’s not worth building in [to the phone]. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain."

enicar333 said...

THIS ISN'T FAIR TO THE POOR. We need some government regulations, The Fairness Access Doctrine,and a new government agency, The Agency For Fair Access to ensure that the poor are able to access the NYT. We will also need taxes to fund the operation, and a team to assess poor/rich ratios.

Protests need to be organized, watchdog committees established. Rights are being violated, whatever happened to FREE speech.

LOL. And here it begins, a Liberals Dream.

paminwi said...

Maybe its already been said but the Daily Caller has a great list of how to get around in paywall in easy ways!

http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/28/the-new-york-timess-pretend-pay-wall/

KLDAVIS said...

The Times obviously knew the Twitter aggregator was coming. I diagrammed it on 3/17 at 10:08 PM in one of your first posts about the new wall.

Ken Mitchell said...

Ann, go ahead and link to Times articles if you find them useful. It's not as if I'm ever going to actually go to the Times website directly...

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