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The Media

Searching for The New York Times 397

r.jimenezz writes "Adam L. Penenberg, an assistant professor at New York University, has written an interesting piece over at Wired about the contrast between the New York Times' relevance in the real world and the dismal rankings it gets in modern search engines' results. Penenberg discusses some very interesting ideas about opening up the Times digital archive and the impact this would have on its cyber presence."
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Searching for The New York Times

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:05AM (#9707457)
    Of course, like many things about the business operations of a traditional publisher that has ventured online, the reasons are simple but the solutions complicated. The New York Times requires that its users register, which makes it difficult for search engines to spider its content.

    As a rule I do not read any newspaper online that I have to register for. In fact, I refuse to purchase the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press here in Minnesota because of their policy requiring user registration. Fake accounts be dammed, you want me to read your paper and have to look through your ads you will let me do so without a cookie linked to information, fake or otherwise.

    an even more impenetrable barrier is the Times' paid archive. Because it stows material more than a week old behind an archive wall, you have to cough up $3 per article. Since few are willing to pay for content they can get free elsewhere, search engines, which often base results on relevancy (read: popularity), will continue to dis the Times -- as well as other media sites that make you register or pay for old news (The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal).

    This is a horrible problem that I have run into in recent times trying to do simple research on the web. I was trying to look for articles pertaining to a friend that currently resides in Perrysburg, OH. I did a simple search on the Toledo Blade's [toledoblade.com] website only to find a link to a third-party archive company that required me to pay a fee to access more than a short blurb about the story. Unwilling to drive the 665 miles to Toledo from where I currently live just to read a hardcopy I gave up on my search for these articles due to this barrier. But while doing research about NEPA I find that The Scranton Times [scrantontimes.com] has a much better free searchable archive of information than does the The Times Leader [leader.net] which requires you to pay to visit their archive. Wonder who gets my visits?

    I really think that these policies could lead to the downfall of traditional news outlets. I have absolutely no desire to pay money for information that should be easily available. Hell, if you are going to charge I can't see a $3 fee! A couple hundred words are worth $3 in storage? No way. Perhaps if I asked them to mail me the copy of the article then $3 would be reasonable.

    "There isn't a compelling business argument today that would suggest that giving away our content is a good idea," Nisenholtz said. Even though the Lexis-Nexis deal is an all-you-can-eat model -- not based on usage -- the Times can ill afford to undermine its relationship with such an important customer. It simply can't charge Lexis-Nexis tens of millions of dollars while giving away the same content free over the Web.

    The argument that makes sense is that people aren't going to be willing to pay you $3 for a computer copy of an article that is only a couple hundred words. Make the fee something reasonable or watch as you begin to waste a lot of money paying the third party archive to host your data and no one retrives it. Perhaps a rival newspaper would open their database up and people would start going to them instead. We can always hope.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > Make the fee something reasonable or watch as you begin to waste a lot of money paying the third party archive to host your data and no one retrives it. Perhaps a rival newspaper would open their database up and people would start going to them instead. We can always hope.

      Your fallacy is to assume that other people value the information as low as you do; you admit fees are ok if they are reasonable. Who's to say $3 is reasonable, you? I think the profit motive would drive the papers to discover the o
      • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:54AM (#9707991) Journal
        Newspapers rarely make enough in issue sales to pay the cost of printing the issue. They make the money in advertising, plain and simple.

        To have a paper like the New York Times, who can command advertising rates as high as any paper in the world, bitching and moaning about their web presence and hoarding their articles like some stupid info-miser shows nothing more than a complete lack of understanding somewhere in the company. There is no excuse for it.

        If any website could sell enough ads to keep itself profitable it would be the website for the new york times. They could add to their revenue and readership in one fell swoop. But no.

        It's dumbass media outlets like this that had better wake up and get with the program. Doing it the way you've always done it will do YOU in the end, and it won't be pretty.
        • When a paper makes money in advertising, it is selling the advertiser access to its readership. In the case of the NYT print edition, that readership demographic is very well established and advertisers know what they get. That is not true with the online readership and could explain the NYT's and other publications' desparate need to assess their demography as quickly as possible through the use of registrations.

          Papers don't make money, ads do. Hence the quote from the article:

          But the dot-com makes a sca

        • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:54PM (#9708618) Homepage Journal
          To have a paper like the New York Times, who can command advertising rates as high as any paper in the world, bitching and moaning about their web presence and hoarding their articles like some stupid info-miser shows nothing more than a complete lack of understanding somewhere in the company. There is no excuse for it.

          Uh, I don't know if you realized this, but newspapers ALSO make a lot -- a LOT -- of money on their archives. In fact, in some areas the only reason the local paper survives is an archival entity, selling their content digitally and on microfilm/fiche to universities and to services like Lexis-Nexus.

          There is a big fear in the newspaper industry that opening their archives online will destroy this revenue stream without introducing a comparable new revenue. It is a very realistic fear...I used to work for an online newspaper company, and it was quite common to have customers putting up less than half of their print content after seeing massive drop offs in print sales. Many clients would ask us to clear their archives, so you could only search a month back.

          I mean, the Times is a respected paper. Their articles are linked to all over the net despite the required registration, and they can expect every self respecting university to buy the year's microfilm roll. Offering the content for free could ONLY hurt them, so they'd be stupid to do so.
        • Surely, making those who are interested in the information pay for it up front is a lot more honest and fair than to finance the site by advertising. In the advertising model, viewers of the site are being subsidized by consumers of the advertised products, without the consent of said consumers.
    • by inkdesign ( 7389 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:24AM (#9707671)
      I'm not so sure the NY Times is outlandish in their pricing for archived articles. Articles from the past are a niche offering, and thus come with niche prices. If you really need an article from 1964, most likely a few bucks won't be too much trouble. The idea that you'll pay a price directly reflective of the cost of goods is ludacris. If it weren't, we'd be paying 4 cents for a coke, 2 dollars for a movie, and 5 bucks a month for internet service. Take a trip down to the library and spend a few hours finding the article on microfiche, if you can, or pay a few dollars and get it immediately at home.
      • We're not talking here about articles from old paper editions. We're talking about articles that they have already published online.
        • The idea that "Because they've done this, I should pay that" is simply self serving. In capitalism, sometimes you pay alot more for something than it cost the seller to procure. If you're not cool with that, you go somewhere else. Their business model is valid, and at this point I think its safe to say that alot of people consider it a valuable service. I happen to agree it is not priced correctly, and thus I don't buy articles there.
    • It's simple. Use The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]. The archives remain free as long as you have a valid link....true, you can't search into the past, but for most website with proper uris, you can simply use a search engine, which will link to a blog, which will link to the article in question. Yes, you have to register, but that is what BugMeNot [bugmenot.com] is for. Plus, the WaPo has Dana Milbank, one of the best reporters in the business!
      • And to clarify, if a search engine (like Google) caches the original article url, that url will remain valid ad infinitum. So claiming that the WaPo is like the WSJ or NYT is a blatant misunderstanding of how the Post archive system works.

        Yes, if you want an article published from 1982, you have to pay for it at the Post. But the gains made in the web era more than outweigh that small inconvenience. Unless you're just blinding searching through the WaPo archive, chances are you can find an original url wh

    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:28AM (#9707711) Homepage Journal
      As a rule I do not read any newspaper online that I have to register for. In fact, I refuse to purchase the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press here in Minnesota because of their policy requiring user registration. Fake accounts be dammed, you want me to read your paper and have to look through your ads you will let me do so without a cookie linked to information, fake or otherwise.

      So they are supposed to provide world-class journalism and post it on a world-class website and you can't be bothered to host a cookie and look at some ads (which can be easily blocked anyway) in return?

      What a massive sense of entitlement you have. Either that or a severe cookie-phobia...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        He's from Minnesota. Everyone here has a massive sense of entitlement. We have taxes that tax your taxes.

        Besides, both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press are such left wing rags that they aren't worth much.

        I only get the Sunday edition because of the coupons.
      • Yes. They should do that, to save me having to register.

        Otherwise I won't go there. Not a threat, simply a fact. Someone is going to come up with a system that lets me link to their content without expecting everyone to jump through hoops to view it, that someone is going to get me linking to them. At that point I won't care what the NYT does, they aren't going to be relevant. I also don't care what sort of business model this requires, I'm never going to expect casual readers of my site to register at the
    • by stang7423 ( 601640 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:29AM (#9707722)

      From a newspapers perspective open archives aren't always a possiblity. I work for a newspaper in a Moderately sized (~100,000 people) midwestern city. We currently have about 135 years of paper archives dating back the the late 1800's. While we do have a decent internet presence, we don't have the resources to provide this conent online for free.

      A recent estimate by me showed that we would need about $20,000 to get that project started in a very barebones manner. That isn't a small amount of money to throw at a project that you want to give away for free. On the other hand their is antoher newspaper in town that charges $90/year for access to their sports archives and at last estimate they had close to 1000 subscribers. For a medium sized paper that amount of money is hard to pass up.

      Now for a company like the New York Times that is a different story. They certainly have the resources to get their content online. They though, have other reasons to keep their content available on a pay basis. They maintian strict controls over all their copyrighted material. Its hard to blame them for this though, since that content is their lifeblood.

      In my opinion I do feel they keep their content under too tight of a lock. Its like having a great idea but never letting anyone hear about it because you are afraid they might steal it. Papers must decide between keeping their copyrighted material secure and providing it to readers in a new medium. But it is that delecate balance that traditional print publications now face while moving into the digital era.

      • On the other hand their is antoher newspaper in town that charges $90/year for access to their sports archives and at last estimate they had close to 1000 subscribers.

        That's also $7.50 a month for unlimited usage of their sports archive. That's not $3 for a single article.
    • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:38AM (#9707818)
      A pint of high-quality water can be obtained from many municipal water systems for a fraction of a penny.

      Yet people are happy to pay $2 for a bottle of the same water.

      Things are worth whatever you are willing to pay.
    • Unwilling to drive the 665 miles to Toledo

      So would you be willing to drive 66 miles? 6 miles? 0.6 miles?

      I gave up on my search for these articles due to this barrier.

      And was this barrier ($3, you later say) more than fuel and parking, not to mention time spent driving to a nearby library? Heck, it's less than return subway fare in NYC. By your reasoning, unless you can walk to the nearest public library and find it, it's not worth having.

      But while doing research about NEPA I find that The Scranto

  • by NickFitz ( 5849 ) <slashdot@nOspam.nickfitz.co.uk> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:05AM (#9707458) Homepage

    I assume that the Googlebot can't be bothered to register ;-)

  • in other news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you have stuff in your store windows, people will be more likely to walk in.
  • by Mephie ( 582671 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:08AM (#9707499) Homepage
    I used to get home delivery of the NYT (I live in Atlanta, GA). Then I got the post-introductory-discount bill. They were charging me something like $40/month! Yet, I can pick it up at the cafeteria where I work for fifty cents a day.

    What a bunch of bastards. Great paper though.

  • relevance? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nes11 ( 767888 )
    "the contrast between the New York Times' relevance in the real world and the dismal rankings it gets in modern search engines"

    how long has it been since the Times was really a relevant source of information in the real world?
    • Re:relevance? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:12AM (#9707536) Homepage
      I think you're painting with too broad of a brush, but I don't think that the New York Times has been the 'paper of record' since Watergate.

      The entire idea of their *being* such a thing seems a little outdated to me.
      • Re:relevance? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:18AM (#9707611) Homepage Journal
        A) Jason Blair

        B) Not indexed by search engines

        C) Not electronically archived

        Yeah, looks like they're really relevant in the 21st century. (And this is a good indication that land-grab IP attitudes have no long term positive benefit in an information society.)

        • What about Judith Miller?

          Seriously, though, the NY Times is a very good paper considering the huge amount of information it contains. However, I still think the Washington Post is more readable, and dare I say, more relevant in these highly political times.
      • Well, sure... especially since it was the Washington Post that really broke Watergate. That's just another thing the NYT didn't take the lead on.
    • It is to the political and media elite.

      Bill Clinton was a big fan of announcing or starting trial programs in the Midwest or South. Journalists are generally so self-centered in their New York and Washington environments and would never notice anything political happening beyond their suburbs.

      Clinton achieved much of his success in part because of that model. He'd float an idea, get local coverage and poll. They'd repeat in multiple markets until they found out what was most popular to critical demograph
    • how long has it been since the Times was really a relevant source of information in the real world?

      Since computerized communication provided open sources of news that made it painfully obvious the Times had let ideology lead them into draconian self-censorship, bias, and occasional (but systematic) outright lies, rather than news coverage, to spread a political agenda.

      It's tempting to say since they started that policy. But that still left them "relevant" - like the propaganda machine of ANY ideology wi
  • Relevance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:09AM (#9707510)
    Relevance is a highly subjective term. If you're a typical outspoken, liberal New Yorker, then its your Bible. If you live in a cabin in Montana, you probably don't give a shit. Calling something 'relevant' indicates much about the person doing the calling, as much or more than it tells anything about the item being discussed.
    Personally, I think its a rag. It's old, its big, its supposedly a "standard", but no more relevant than my local paper. And probably LESS relevant than the sum total of whats available online - BBC, London Times, Die Zeit, Drudge, CNN.com, english.aljazeera.net, etc. etc.
    • Drudge? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TrentL ( 761772 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:25AM (#9707675) Homepage
      Dude, 99.99% of Drudge's big "scoops" are just a sentence leaked from the NY Times newsroom about some big story they're going to publish the next day. Drudge is good at collecting information, but don't kid yourself: his investigative skills are nil.
      • Re:Drudge? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Politburo ( 640618 )
        You're close, but Drudge's scoops more often come from the RNC, not the NYT. It doesn't take a genius to notice that Rush and Drudge are talking about the same thing every day. He got lucky with the Clinton scoop, and the RNC has been using him ever since. Whether or not he knows it, I can't say. He seems to view himself as a legitimate media source, but that just may be part of the act.
    • Re:Relevance? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Relevance is a highly subjective term.


      Exactly. With all the information available in a multitude of places, why should the NYT be relevant?

    • > Personally, I think its a rag. It's old, its
      > big, its supposedly a "standard", but no more
      > relevant than my local paper.

      There's a high chance your local paper decides what to put on their front page based on what the front page stories are in the NYT. How do they know? The stories the NYT are considering are sent out on AP Wire every afternoon.
    • Re:Relevance? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Politburo ( 640618 )
      And probably LESS relevant than the sum total of whats available online - BBC, London Times, Die Zeit, Drudge, CNN.com, english.aljazeera.net, etc. etc.

      Wow. You lump Drudge in with those other names? Please don't give him that much credit, considering 95% of his content is from those other names you list, plus the New York Times, Washington Post, and wire services.

      If you're a typical outspoken, liberal New Yorker, then its your Bible.

      ROFL! Go to any liberal blog, like DailyKos, and see how much bitchi
  • by xenostar ( 746407 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:10AM (#9707519)
    Who needs the NYT! Let the New York POST open up its vast archives! Imagine searching through decades of mindless celebrity gossip and suddle right-wing propaganda?
    • suddle?

      saddle?
      subtle?

      subtle right-wing propaganda?
    • I'd rather read subtle propoganda than flagrant propoganda. (Though I refuse to apply either label while on Slashdot.) Flagrant propoganda just rubs me the wrong way. I was a writer and editor for my high school paper, and I tend to have trouble respecting news outlets that don't even bother to attempt to appear balanced.

      My uncle, on the other hand, takes a different view. In his view, if he can't see pro-conservative remarks in an article, it's liberal trash.
      • My uncle, on the other hand, takes a different view. In his view, if he can't see pro-conservative remarks in an article, it's liberal trash.

        Your uncle may be making a very important point.

        The MAIN tool of propoganda is not the lie. It's the omission of truth. Selective reporting creates a false image, and THAT is the lie.

        By carefully omitting one side of an issue while focusing coverage on another, the covered side can be made to appear objective truth or the popular viewpoint, rather than an off-the
  • The Blame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:14AM (#9707570) Homepage Journal
    The article assumes that the fault lies with the NYT and whether their archives are open. Perhaps the real fault lies with Google. Shouldn't there be something in Google that identifies certain sites and more reliable than others rather than basing rank solely on links? How many people link to online news articles? You're more likely to link to your friends beer-and-computer-mods page than a NYT article about Ashcroft's boot fetish.

    • Re:The Blame (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xylaan ( 795464 ) *

      Shouldn't there be something in Google that identifies certain sites and more reliable than others rather than basing rank solely on links?

      The problem with an approach like this is in how Google determines who should be 'high' on the list. If they decide themselves, they lose some of the objectivity in their algorithm. Changes to the algorithm that result in a lower ranking have already resulted in lawsuits. Or, they could let the companies pay for higher ranking. However, I think that would have an

    • Re:The Blame (Score:2, Insightful)

      by whollychao ( 797201 )
      To treat a particulary website as more reliable than another has a number of problems. The first I can see is: what of opinion pieces on a reliabe site? Should Google also be able to differentiate between opinion pieces and non-opinion pieces? The logistics of such a system become complex quickly when one considers how much/little opinion may enter into a given piece and determining at what point a given article from a reliable site is more trustworthy than someone else's blog. The second problem is that o
    • Re:The Blame (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:32AM (#9707756) Homepage Journal
      Shouldn't there be something in Google that identifies certain sites and more reliable than others rather than basing rank solely on links?

      There is "something in Google that identifies certain sites as more reliable than others", and it is the pagerank algorythym, and it's based on a mass democratic survey of actual web pages. Barring google hacks, this is a good thing.

      Perhaps you want "someone" not "something", but what if you don't agree with them? Frankly that's the part of problem with conventional media - biased, corporate-bought, dumbed-down pundits acting as gatekeepers.
    • Re:The Blame (Score:3, Insightful)

      by usn2fsu03 ( 711294 )

      How many people link to online news articles?

      Oh, I dunno, pretty much every blogger out there will do so at some time another, while a non-trivial amount of them do so often each day.

      I witnessed the phenomena described in the article a few days ago when I was drafting a post reviewing what has happened in Florida's US Senate race up to this point. All of my links to news articles referring to things that had occurred more than a month ago were St Petersburg Times articles. Why? Because they don't hid

    • You are assuming that they are more reliable.

      These days the Times is at the level of the NY Post and Fox news in terms of political propaganda.
  • blogs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:15AM (#9707581) Homepage
    While the NYT may fare dismally in search rankings, I suspect their online influence is still strong. Many of the top hits on a given subject may not link to nyt.com but i'll wager that a number of them are blogs that reference Times material. Just a thought.
  • by coshx ( 687751 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:16AM (#9707583)
    I have no problem with registering. If all I have to do is register an email address (heck, even a free hotmail address that i reserve only for spam) and my name, and maybe even my address, and I can get top quality news reporting without having to pay for the newspaper, then by all means I'm for it.

    The reason why the NY Times is one of the best papers in the world is because they can afford to pay their employees what they deserve. If my registration helps up the amount of money they can get from their advertisers, then I'm all for it. People deserve to be paid for their hard work.

    That said, I do believe they need to have better results on google, and don't agree with paying $3 for their archives that I can get at my local library for free.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:27AM (#9707698) Journal
      To me, it's just a question of cost vs. reward. I read NYT articles enough to make registering worthwhile. (Plus their cookies don't seem to get dropped that often, unlike the Washington Post, where I seem to have to re-identify myself as a 55 year old woman in Afghanistan every other day.) On the other hand, when a link takes me to some random paper that requires registration -- screw it.

      Of course, from the random paper's point of view, what have they really lost?

      In any case, the Wired guy seems to be missing the point. The NYT isn't a dot-com, it's a profit-making newspaper. Dominating "cyberspace" isn't a priority for them.

  • by Scott Richter ( 776062 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:16AM (#9707589)
    Can we stop with the "cyberspace" crap? Somehow we convinced your average idiot that saying "information superhighway" made him sound like a 'tard - what's it going to take this time?

    Think of the children, people.

  • Bigger Problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnhennessy ( 94737 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:17AM (#9707595)
    I think this touches upon a much larger problem.

    Traditionally, libraries were the ultimate source of information. They were organised and well indexed - to help one find what they are looking for.

    The internet has become an "instant library" to a lot of us. In ways, the internet is better than a library. Searching is trivial and the amount of information staggering. However, a lot of information is getting lost. I'm aware that there are Archiving sites, but often, these sites cannot index or record the information that sites present from their own MySQL/Oracle databases.

    Search engines are really only good for searching a static site, and don't particularly scale well to sites that have content that change frequently.

    It all boils down to this: HTML+Search Engine is not a good combination for giving people access to information over a long period of time. Web sites come and go (depending on the interest of their maintainters) and when they go, they're gone for good.

    We need to start distributing the content on a global scale - the same way books distribute content among many people.
    • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:27PM (#9709000)
      And perhaps parent johnhennessy touches upon a bigger problem :-)


      Libraries are generally wonderful, amazing places: well organised, friendly and incredibly expert staff who do their best to get what you need for little or no cost.

      But there is a cost - and people forget about it, because its in our taxes. (Whether or not we should pay for public libraries out of our taxes, and whether the money is well spent is another argument). But the bottom line is that we've had 100 years or so of great services because there has been a general philosophical acceptance that it's a Good Thing for everybody to throw in a few cents for a building in every town, full of good books, staffed by experts, and with an infrastructure to enable gaps in individual library stocks to be covered at a national *and* international level by an interlibrary loan service. Most developed countries now have a superbly developed system for getting paper-based information to their citizens for little cost.
      My question is: would we accept paying taxes to do the same via the internet?

      I think it's mainly a philosophical, rather than technical question. If we all agreed to pay additional 'library taxes' then there's no reason why existing sources couldn't be made available to all citizens (e.g. your National Insurance number is your password, now you can get the NYT online for free, NYT gets paid by the treasury for its national-to-all-citizens licence each year) and also in the same way that many library indexing systems were evolved by librarians working under public funding, why not use public funding to develop internet archiving / retrieval systems of comparable value? I think it's a philosophical issue, it depends on how you see these technical solutions being funded.

  • by deanj ( 519759 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:18AM (#9707612)
    This shouldn't be a surprise. Look at the headlines they give in 50 point type, and then when it turns out to be wrong it doesn't even make front page news.

    Yellow cake in Niger, for example, they hail him as nearly a god when he says there was no such thing, and that turns out to be wrong...see here [msn.com] here [insightmag.com] here [kentucky.com] here [suntimes.com]
    here [yahoo.com] and here [sltrib.com].

    They've finally run a story about it [nytimes.com], but wouldn't it have been a lot better for them to have investigated those Wilson allegations themselves, when they first happened?

    That's only one of the latest...
    • The real gem in their corrections recently was for the AIDS expert who had said "It's socially acceptable for men to have multiple sex partners in Africa." and was quoted by the Times as saying "It's socially acceptable for me to have multiple sex partners in Africa." Oops, sorry, Doc...
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:19AM (#9707615)
    Tons of websites require you to register, not to mention discussion boards of every flava.

    I have to admit I have registration-fatigue.

    At least /. has the AC option... I wish more websites would offer a similar thing to people, and a few more benefits to registered users, and a few more benefits to paying customers.

    More people would be happy this way.
  • Morris Papers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    An inside source told me that many of the Morris Papers [morris.com] actually discourage spiders and search engine referrals since it does very little for their local based advertisers.
  • by clsc ( 730336 )
    If (HTTP_USER_AGENT ~= Googlebot) {
    ShowContent();
    } else {
    AskForUID();
    }
    This is done by some of these login based sites, although it will still p*** the user off, as, when the article is seen in the search results, they will meet the usual login stuff in stead of the content they wanted.

    (yes, i know that UA strings can be faked)

    • That's what the google cache is for ;)

      It's amazing how many subscription based sites forget to restrict caching with meta tags:

      <META HTTP-EQUIV="CACHE-CONTROL" CONTENT="NO-CACHE">
      Oh crap, now googlebot won't remember this conversation either! Or are code/ecode tags skipped by bots?
  • by Hiroto. S ( 631919 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:21AM (#9707635) Journal
    I always thought Google News is a subset of Google, but inspired by this article, I did a little experiment and proved otherwise. To get to a particular article in yesterdays NY Times, I did:

    "a specific name in that article" site:nytimes.com

    in Google News and it returned me that specific article. But then, I presed "Web" search for the same phrase and it didn't return that article but a couple of older articles with the same name (I guess those were from the time before the Google News started).

  • by Banner ( 17158 )
    The NYT's has a history of slanting and even making up its news. So why would anyone who's interested in facts and factual accounts want anything to do with looking up its articles?

    Not to mention some of the truely bizzarre screeds coming out of some of its journalists.
    • Do not try and read the news. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.

      What truth?

      There is no news.

      There is no news?

      Then you'll see that it is not the news that is being read, it is only yourself being entertained.
    • The NYT's has a history of slanting and even making up its news.

      But then again, so does every other newspaper or other media outlet in the history of communication. You do know that, don't you?

      So what makes the Times so different?
  • Images (Score:5, Interesting)

    by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:24AM (#9707670) Journal
    In an interesting coincidence, just an hour or so ago, I was looking for an article I read online in the NYT. Specifically, I was looking for an interesting image which was in the article. (Not for any specific use, I just wanted to show a friend.)

    Besides the fact that the article is in the archive now (yet less than a month old!) and costs money, the page also informs you that:

    Please Note: Archive articles do not include photos, charts or graphics. Our photos are available for purchase, please click here for more information.

    Clicking the link reveals that you can order a photographic print for $95, and that's if they have it.

    I don't even want a photographic print! A 200x200 pixel bitmap would be fine! (and hardly damaging to their photo sales)

    As the article points out, why would anyone casually link to a NYT story? There is simply no point in linking to something most can't access without paying.

    They certainly deserve that Google ranking.
  • by AtlanticCarbon ( 760109 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:26AM (#9707691)
    First we had that scandal with Jason Blair who made up stories-- okay even top notch organizations make mistakes.

    But then they came out and admitted they didn't do their job in the run up to the war (i.e., underreporting the suspect issues with the war and putting it in back pages).

    OOOPS.

    After such big mistakes I don't really consider them the best anymore. And like other reputations in this world, it seems to be more based on momentum than anything else.

    I'm not saying they're a bad paper, just that we should demand more from the US's supposed #1 paper.
    • I think the Washington Post and New Yorker are probably the most relevant news sources right now. Sy Hersh just *dominated* the Abu Ghraib story. Word on the street is that the worst is still to come...stories if child rape and videos.
    • At least they were willing to admit they made mistakes by not doing due diligence on suspect issues such as the yellow cake.

      The same can't be said for the people who continue to insist:

      a) that wmds do exist even though none have been found despite the fact they 'knew' where those weapons were

      b) that Iraq and Al-Qaeda had long-standing, cooperative ties even though the investigative report clearly showed that not to be the case

      If someone is willing to own up to their mistakes that speaks volumes compared
  • Relevant to whom? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pcardno ( 450934 )
    OK, the NYT is relevant to Americans, but hardly anyone else. They rarely cover non-US focused stories, unlike, for example, the BBC. The Googleweb already suffers enough from pulling back US related results as opposed to global results, and moving the NYT up will only worsen that.

    And after all, if the NYT isn't that popular as an Internet source of information, as it seems it isn't, surely it's wrong/unethical for Google to be working with them on a way to fudge the results so that the NYT comes in higher
  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mishkin ( 729185 )
    I find it a bit strange that we are talking about the relevancy of a news PAPER on Slashdot where I bet 99% of people get their up to date information from the web. I mean, if I want day old news I will read a newspaper. If I want up to date news I will get on the web or turn on the radio.
  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:29AM (#9707728) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand the logic behind charging to read news articles online and frankly I don't care about the NYT. I'm of the opinion that every newspaper and website news seems to copy and paste the same articles with the exception of a few choice words put in that I just choose to ignore - for example:

    Reuters
    "Man commits suicide"

    BBC
    "Man commits suicide after learning his wife was having an affair"

    CNN
    "An average Joe Worker committed suicide today after having his broken when he found out about his wife having an affair with another man"

    FOX
    "It was a tragic day for the family of Joe Worker who committed suicide shortly after learning that his wife was having an affiar with another man."

    NYT
    "It was a day like any other, except this time Joe Worker came home early from work to surprise his wife. Unfortunately he surprised not only her, but his wife's lover as well. After becoming enraged (wouldn't we all?) he proceeded to the basement where Joe Worker took his fathers P-Shooter and blew his head off. His wife later called authorities."

    Now why do I need to PAY to be able to read a NEWS story that reads like an editorial on some guys pathetic life when all I really care about is "Just the facts" and getting to the Dilbert Comics?
  • by presarioD ( 771260 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:31AM (#9707744)
    As Crosbie said, "as fewer and fewer people read print publications and (more) make the switch to online, the Times" -- and its competitors -- are "going to have to figure out a way to make more money on the Web."

    I know it will sound abhorringly naive but shouldn't The New York Times have as a prime interest independent and objective journalism instead of profit driven opinion-articles passed as objective journalism? Didn't they have to appologize [editorandpublisher.com] for participating in the national hype (that means acting as a propaganda instrument) for the war against Iraq?

    A newspaper acting as a propaganda instrument is something very alarming to happen in a democratic country. That's what happens in fascist, communist and oppresive regimes in general. No wonder Michael Moore's movie/documentary is so wildly accepted. The people want the truth but the number of them that trusts US corporate media anymore decreases by the day.

  • Rankings (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:32AM (#9707750)
    Aren't many rankings dependant on how many people link to the site? Not many folks will cite the link if it requires registration or a "Pay to Retrieve".

    Moreso - People will just cut and paste the article and post that instead.

    I don't know why they still bother with the registration - who actually puts in relvant information anyway?
  • who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Squeezer ( 132342 )
    really, who cares? yes the access to the information would be great, but the new york times is a heavily biased news organization with a lot of liberal spin and mis-information. the new york times will lie to make up stories (jason blair anyone?) or just beat a story to death in an attempt to make president bush look bad. When I read the NYT I have the same reaction as when I read the National Enquirer (gasp! my gosh, what if its true!)

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1145998/p osts [freerepublic.com]
  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:40AM (#9707841) Homepage Journal

    The Times attracts 9 million unique visitors a month, while only about 1 million read the daily paper.

    I find the extensive dead-tree version convenient and end up reading more from it than the on-line version that's free.

    But, not having a lot of time during the week, I end up buying the print version maybe every 3 days, and quickly scanning the on-line headlines on the off-print days.

    The Times really ought to open up its archive and let everyone, including Lexis-Nexis, have free access.

    Many years ago at a university library they had an entire special catalog devoted to indexing old NY Times articles that one could read from microfiche. Without the individual paying, either.

    There is still a fundamental chasm between archived high-quality material (especially true for scientific journals) and what is freely available and searchable on the web.

    Think about how useful it would be for the general public to have access to old, high-quality archives like the NY Times and other scientific periodicals; the pursuit of science and other research would be considerably advanced over where it is today. Then there is the reality: copyright protections and the hope by the copyright owners for a few dollars more by charging for access (that only the very wealthy or institutions can afford) still persists.

    It's almost enough that I think the government ought to exercise eminent domain [castlecoalition.org] (link to counterpoint about possible abuse of eminent domain - just as they do for land when a freeway needs to go through Aunt Tilly's backyard) and provide some reasonable compensation to the current copyright owners and to appropriate sufficiently old works and make them available publicly.

  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#9707870) Homepage Journal
    From the hit song "Stayin' Alive":


    We can try to understand

    the New York Time's effect on man.


    The Bee Gees were obviously visionaries.

  • I really don't like the idea that you can't continue to link to an article beyond a certain time limit, or that after that time limit anyone following your link will get a demand for a $3 payment.

    That's why, although the article may be shorter, I prefer to use BBC News [bbc.co.uk] if I'm referring to a story.

    Having said that, I certainly feel sorry for the NYT, and I do have my own valid registration. I just can't see how they can find a for-profit way to handle their archive.
  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:46AM (#9707906) Journal
    "The Gray Lady is a beautiful clipper ship, but it's losing steam..."
    --media consultant Vin Crosbie, from TFA
    • by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:42PM (#9709156)
      Perhaps they lost a word, and it should have been "The Gray Lady is a beautiful clipper ship, but it's losing to steam..." The paper-only news sources are a dying media, and this process will only accelerate. If the Times management can't figure that out ... well, how many companies can make a living for their employees by selling slide rules, buggy whips, and whale oil lamps these days? These things work themselves out in the market, but it'll sure suck to be a Times employee.

      Or investor.
  • The Lexis-Nexis agreement is the key bit. NYT Digital profited $25M and they have a $20M agreement with Lexis-Nexis that they wouldn't have if the archive were available free. The archive therefore clearly won't be free as long as Lexis-Nexis "owns" it.

    I don't know what else is in Lexis-Nexis, but I imagine they have similar agreements with their other main sources of info. But it seems like they're the ones who are more threatened by Google, since they are so clearly in direct competition. When their first customers start making their content too free on the web, there's going to be a momentum that leads to the decline of Lexis-Nexis's current model--at which point NYT Digital will figure out some other way to make money.
  • Personalized news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glinden ( 56181 ) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @11:53AM (#9707986) Homepage Journal
    The Wired article also talks about the differences between readers online and offline. Readers online only spend 1.5 minutes/day reading the paper compared to 28.2 minutes/day offline. The author goes on to argue that the online site should be more targeted than the offline site:
    • The Times should customize its content so that readers could pick and choose which stories they want based on their own particular interests, rather than having to wade through the site's table of contents.
    What is being suggested here is personalized news such as Findory News [findory.com]. Take advantage of the online media format. Customize each page to each reader's interests. Make it easier for online readers to find interesting news.
  • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:00PM (#9708056)
    There is no correlation between size in the real world vs. the virtual world. The New York Times is a gated community. It should be _no_surprise_ that search engines rank the NYT low *and* that its popularity is low. If Google starts ranking NYT links high, it won't be because they are popular or more useful that other news sources, and it will be a great disservice to Google users.
  • by LISNews ( 150412 ) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:13PM (#9708182) Homepage
    Your local library. Unless you're really in the middle of nowhere and your library has no budget at all, go to the library. Heck, you might not even have to go to the library, many libraries now do chat reference, ask-a-librarian, and all libraries have a phone.

    There's more, MUCH more, to doing research than using google. Paid databases have it all over google for finding current and historical news information.

    If you can't find something local, try the Library Of Congress [loc.gov], they do online chat reference.
  • Useful tool... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Haha ( 753617 ) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:19PM (#9708236) Homepage
    Not sure if anyone noticed but in my opinion:

    http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink

    was the only thing of any relative importance as its another nice way to get around the NYtimes registration barrier....

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