By Frank Moher
The Times shut down its old website on Tuesday and started directing all traffic to two new ones: thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk. These are the ones that they propose, at sometime in the indeterminate future, to start charging for.
I was interested to see how Rupert Murdoch, wily media titan that he is, intended to get people to pay for something they’re used to getting for free, and will still be able to get for free from most of his competitors. I imagined lots of rich media, streaming video, real-time interaction with visitors, maybe the kind of collaborative citizen/professional journalism, using Google Wave, that recently won the Seattle Times a Pulitzer. Imagine my surprise, then, when I signed up for the sneak preview a few weeks ago and found this:
A newspaper. Okay, so I wasn’t that surprised. As I’ve already written, the whole notion of charging for newspapers online represents a massive failure of imagination. This just confirmed that the NewsCorp cartel had run out of ideas.
And possibly reporters, too. I happened to be logged-in the night that the Israeli navy was chasing the Rachel Corrie on its voyage towards Gaza. The whole world was watching, to see if there’d be a repeat of the bloody incident of a few days before. Down in the corner, The Times was reporting this:
But as it turned out, it would actually be a good half hour before soldiers boarded the boat. Significantly, Twitter was busy at the same time with the same “news,” but already new reports were beginning to emerge there: the Israelis hadn’t “seized” the boat, but were merely tailing it. So I waited, and sure enough, about 10 minutes later:
The implication seemed unavoidable: The Times was getting its news from Twitter, right along with the rest of us. And for this it wants to charge us?
Sorry, Rupert. I already have Twitter. But good luck with that paywall idea anyway.