Commentary

NYT Posts Articles on Twitter; Asks Others Not to Notice

Huh?  The New York Times is clearly struggling with the whole social media angle of its new online pay-wall -- or rather, trying to have its online cake and eat it too.

On one hand, the NYT wants heavy users to pay for access to online content, shelling out $15 per month for continued access after reading the maximum allowed 20 articles for free; the pay wall is supposed to take effect on March 28 (it's already up in Canada).

On the other hand, the NYT wants to keep its online content accessible through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, so new or casual readers can see links, follow them to the Web site, and be duly awed by the newspaper's reportage.

But this leads to a freakish third hand, as social media access effectively allows you to circumvent the online pay-wall.  The NYT's elegant solution: chop this third hand off with a hacksaw, grab cake, eat.

Like most other big news organizations with an online presence, the NYT posts links to most of its articles to Twitter itself at http://twitter.com/nytimes, as part of its social media strategy. Savvy! Of course, because Twitter is social media, that means other people can do things with these links -- like retweet them, so that other users can see them for free (because they're arriving on the Web site from Twitter, see?)

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That's what @freenyt did, according to PCMag, offering access to articles from all sections of the NYT via Twitter, plus a pithy explanatory note, "Dear NYT: if you don't want people following your stories on Twitter then you probably shouldn't, you know, post 'em on Twitter."

The NYT is not amused (confused, maybe -- amused, definitely not). The Gray Lady has responded by asking Twitter to take down the offending account, which it claims is violating the NYT trademark. While I'm no legal expert, this claim seems somewhat tendentious, as one supporter tweeted to @freenyt: "When your #paywall requires to to invent exciting, far-reaching new trademark laws, You're Doing It Wrong, #NYT."
1 comment about "NYT Posts Articles on Twitter; Asks Others Not to Notice".
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  1. Ellie Becker from E.R. Becker Company, Inc., March 23, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.

    The ultimate question here is this: Is NY Times journalism worth paying for. I've made a personal decision that, 'Yes it is' and got me a digital subscription way before the paywall comes up. Media is evolving and trying to figure out what the future will be. Along the way - complicated by the new online tools that we all use -- there will be trip-ups. I'm getting to the point where I say, "Cut some slack while organizations try to figure it out." Does it have to be a feeding frenzy 24/7 everytime someone takes a step back while trying to take a leap forward? We're all adopting to a new environment and a daily delivery of new 'tools'. There but for the grace...go we all.

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