Friday, March 26, 2010

Moving (backwards) with The Times

The Times and the Sunday Times are about to make a seriously retrograde step. They are about to throw up a paywall around their news services. Now the BBC report only says 'charging to access their websites', so there's no direct indication whether News International intend all their content to be behind the wall, or just the articles (as opposed to the headlines), but either way, this is an idiotic decision.

If, and boy is that a big if these days, the Times and the Sunday Times were the only sources of (reasonably) trustworthy news (and thereby hangs a much more complex tale!) on the internet, then moving their content behind a paywall might entice people to spend money getting access to that news, but the reality is significantly different from that. I can state, with a pretty high level of confidence, that I've not needed to go to the Time nor the Sunday Times in many years. I've not wanted to go there either, for just as long. In fact, I don't think I've even bothered going there in at least 12 months, and even if I did, it was only because I found the news somewhere else, and happened to click through to their sites. (So much for the 'aggregators are stealing our content' argument - I'd never have gone to their sites in the first place if it weren't for said aggregators!)

Now, I'm not suggesting that my pattern of usage (or lack thereof) of the News International sites is normal, but I bet there are many, many, many thousands of regular users of the internet in the British Isles that somehow manage to avoid using the Times and the Sunday Times with very little effort, and very little loss to their understanding of the world. In fact, given the nature of some of the other titles in the NI stable (the Sun and the News of the World - two rags that push a particularly atrocious example of the UK equivalent of a red-neck world view), I'm sure many people are better off getting their news elsewhere.

There are so many free alternatives to NI sites, that they are simply wasting their time.

Goodbye, the Times and the Sunday Times, you won't be missed.

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