I have a New York Magazine piece out that goes inside the New York Times‘ decision to begin charging for online access to the paper’s website. The decision to roll out a paid system for web content caps a year of contentious debate among senior Times executives and newsroom staff. The argument centered on whether the Times risked losing its mass appeal by charging readers online, given the web’s spotty history of extracting subscription fees from fickle online readers. Times digital chief Martin Nisenholtz led the free camp, while executive editor Bill Keller advocated for a paid model.
But now that it appears that web advertising–at least as its currently conceived–will never support the Times‘ ambitious journalism, the paper is seeking to build another source of revenue. The Times appears to have landed on a metered model similar to the Financial Times, where readers can sample a number of free articles before being asked to pony up for unlimited access.
You can read my full piece HERE:
In this week’s New York, I profile star New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, the author of the blockbuster Wall Street book Too Big to Fail. Sorkin has had a meteoric rise at the Times. He started writing for the paper at 18, and took over the hyper-competitive mergers and acquisitions beat when he was just out of college.
Sorkin is more than a reporter. He’s a brand unto himself. He runs Dealbook, the Times‘ closely-followed Wall Street blog, writes a weekly column and makes numerous appearances on CNBC and Charlie Rose. But inside the Times, Sorkin is a figure of considerable newsroom conflict. Many senior reporters question his closeness to the Wall Street mandarins who are his sources, worrying that he might be repeating the mistakes of former disgraced Times reporter Judy Miller. Critics point out that he wrote glowingly about the private equity boom, and failed to see the real-estate and credit meltdowns before it was too late. With his book, Sorkin has set out to write the definitive account of the behind-the-scenes battle to save the financial system from ruin. Inside the Times, the debate over Sorkin is really a battle to define the narrative of the meltdown.
Despite the criticism, Sorkin has achieved something most of his Times colleagues haven’t: job security. In an uncertain time for newspapers, Sorkin’s brand is assured.
Read the full piece HERE
In the current New Republic, I have a piece on the Obama White House’s special relationship with New York Times columnist David Brooks. The piece explores efforts by the Obama team to court Brooks, and why Brooks’ center-right views are so crucial to the White House’s selling of issues like healthcare and the economy. From the piece:
It’s easy to understand why the administration does this. Brooks’s sympathetic columns help to validate the key myth of this White House: that it is fundamentally post-partisan. Plus, Brooks appeals to a major Obama constituency: the latté-sipping Baby Boomers who were the subject of his 2000 best-seller Bobos in Paradise. These were among Obama’s strongest supporters in the last election, but their loyalty could be tested by spiraling deficits, botched health care reform, or a flagging economy. As much as any columnist, Brooks speaks to these left-of-center suburbanites.
After all, he is known for attracting liberal readers who normally can’t stand conservative pundits.
Read the full piece HERE