Your newspaper online, circa 1981

You have to watch the 2 minute video in this short article from start to finish.

Just knowing what happens in the following decades makes some of it seem fascinating, a lot seems amusing and some of it seems almost like dark humor since like they are unaware of the impact it’s going to have on the people in the print newspaper business.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/1981-internet_n_4617346.html

All the news that’s fit to print

I notice that the Japan Times has recently gone partially behind a paywall.

I still get the free daily emails, and can connect to the site (which has a nice tablet version too) for free. And it seems you can read a certain number of articles before you are prompted to login.

The basic account, which requires a login, is also free, and it apparently gives you an extra 15 articles to read per month. But after that it has become paid, like the New York Times site.

It’s a bit pricey too:

If you want to move from 15 articles per month to 80 articles, it is 900 yen/month.

Unlimited digital only access is 3,000 yen/month. That is more expensive than a print subscription to the Daily Yomiuri which is 2,600 yen/month.

Then comes their full subscription, which is 5,000 yen/month and includes home delivery, unlimited digital access and also, interestingly enough, unlimited digital access on all devices to the International New York Times, with whom they have partnered. This is reduced to 4,480 yen/month with a full year subscription.

That might be a bargain for people who already subscribe to the New York Times digital for all devices, which averages out to about 3,800 yen/month. In other words, if you are already subscribing to the full New York Times digital on all your devices you can add home delivery and full digital access to the Japan Times for just an extra 680 yen/month (if you get a year’s subscription). That’s not unappealing.

On the other hand, it’s about what I’m paying monthly for my fiber optic Internet line and provider service.

I can understand why they are trying. Print subscribers are decreasing in numbers all over the world.

I used to be a faithful newspaper subscriber. For years I subscribed to the Japan Times. After about 20 years I got tired of their editorial policy – in particular their paid “country days” which basically was a section devoted to an entire country (even places like Iran) with lots of congratulatory articles and paid ads from companies trying to get into that country’s good graces. It seemed like “paid news” to me and so I switched to the Daily Yomiuri. The Daily Yomiuri was considerably less expensive and, I think, a better newspaper with their weekly rotating sections from other newspapers around the world, like the LA Times and Times of London.

Yet I had a major change of heart about print newspapers after the 3/11/2011 great earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. I got one one-page special edition the day of the quake. But thereafter, all the news I was getting was basically one day old. Which of course is generally the problem with print newspapers and up-to-date news. At that time, getting current news seemed critical and it annoyed me that I would read something online and then get it in print a day later.

So, after some long, hard thinking, I gave up my print subscription to the Daily Yomiuri back in 2011. I thought I would miss it, and go through withdrawal, but surprisingly did not. By that time, I had gotten used to reading news online – on my computer, and on my iPhone and iPad. There seemed to be plenty of online, free choices. And I especially got to like the news aggregator apps like Zite and Flipboard which bring in free news from all sorts of publications. There is even quite a nice Japan Times mobile site, as I mentioned above. I just started noticing that I was running into their paywall limit recently.

I know it doesn’t make sense really. I used to think it was worth it to pay for magazines, and for newspaper subscriptions. Yet somehow I get the feeling (unfair probably) that “news ought to be free” and “they should somehow pay for everything with advertising” and “it should be a lot cheaper if they aren’t printing on paper and doing home delivery.”

But it seems that quality sites, like the New York Times, which is an enormously expensive operation, have not found a way to make it work with just advertising. Thus their paywalls.

One problem with the New York Times paywall is that it is trivially easy to bypass. You see, they allow links from other sites to come in for free. That way other sites can refer to them, which is presumably good publicity. So all you have to do to read any New York Times article for free is (1) copy the link; (2) go to another site like nbcnews.com; (3) paste the link into the browser and there you are. To the New York Times it looks like you are being referred by nbcnews.com and you get in.

I’m sure it’s not the same as true complete full browsing access on all devices, but it gets the job done, and, to be honest (or to be dishonest, depending on how you look at it) it has been one factor in me hesitating about buying a subscription. Why pay for something that is so easy to see for free?

I think there will come a time when I’ll probably cave and subscribe again. I do think there has to be a better price level though, considering the state of technology. For example, I definitely don’t need a printed paper (except for my bird cages). So I feel it would be a waste to subscribe to the full-blown Japan Times print + digital + New York Times offer. It would be nice if they had a step down from that which was all digital, but without the home delivery. And it does seem you should be able to save some amount if you are not receiving a printed paper with the labor of home delivery.

For now, I’m still sticking with free news sources, because they are so widespread and available. But if quality, reliable news becomes unavailable, I may give in at some point, if the price seems right.

I do like the New York Times and all the in-depth coverage of everything. I don’t like the high cost, and mountains of paper piling up in my genkan.

THE CIA STRIKES BACK – against Fox News’ fake “Benghazi-gate”

From Politico’s Playbook. To all the gullible idiots who still get their information from Fox News and are buying into Fox’s attempts to pump up a last-minute fake “Benghazi-gate.”

“At one point during the consulate siege, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned the CIA director directly to seek assistance.”

–THE CIA STRIKES BACK I – N.Y. Times A4, “C.I.A. Played Major Role Fighting Militants in Libya Attack,” by Eric Schmitt : “Within 25 minutes of being alerted to the attack against the diplomatic mission, half a dozen C.I.A. officers raced there from their base about a mile away, enlisting the help of a handful of Libyan militia fighters as they went. … C.I.A. officers joined State Department security agents in a futile search through heavy smoke and enemy fire for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens before evacuating the mission’s personnel to the apparent safety of their base, which American officials have called an annex to the mission. Mr. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the attack.” http://nyti.ms/Vi4UIc

-THE CIA STRIKES BACK II — WashPost A1, “CIA rushed to rescue envoys in Libya siege,” by Greg Miller: “The CIA rushed security operatives to an American diplomatic compound in Libya within 25 minutes of its coming under attack and played a more central role in the effort to fend off a night-long siege than has been acknowledged publicly … The decision to give a comprehensive account of the attack five days before the election is likely to be regarded with suspicion, particularly among Republicans who have accused the Obama administration of misleading the public by initially describing the assault as a spontaneous eruption that began as a protest of an anti-Islamic video. U.S. officials said they decided to offer a detailed account of the CIA’s role to rebut media reports that have suggested that agency leaders delayed sending help to State Department officials seeking to fend off a heavily armed mob.” http://wapo.st/YvpUtG

–THE CIA STRIKES BACK III — “U.S. says CIA responded within 25 minutes to Benghazi attack,” by L.A. Times’ Ken Dilanian: “CIA security officers in a Benghazi post responded within 25 minutes to a call for help from a nearby State Department compound after it came under attack Sept. 11, officials said Thursday, seeking to refute a Fox News report asserting that CIA managers ordered them to stay put. In releasing a detailed timeline of CIA actions that night, senior intelligence officials have put aside long-standing concerns about revealing the extent of the agency’s presence in Benghazi in order to push back against what officials say are baseless allegations that aid was withheld. …

“Fox News asserted in a story last week that CIA managers had ordered agency security officers to ‘stand down’ and remain in their own facility, known as the Annex, when the attack on the diplomatic compound began about 9:40 p.m. and that there was an hour delay before officers disobeyed orders and went to help repel the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and State Department officer Sean Smith. Among those who rushed to help was Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL who was part of the CIA security team and who later died in the attacks.”

Using Internet harms memory

There was an article somewhere today on how using the Internet adversely affects your memory because you can easily look things up instead of trying to remember information. Or something like that. I can’t remember where I saw it, but you can Google for it.

doug