Archives for New York Times



Parsing the Times Paywall

In a new paper (abstract; PDF), psychologists Jonathan Cook and Shahzeen Attari surveyed users about the hotly debated New York Times paywall:

Participants were surveyed shortly after the paywall was announced and again 11 weeks after it was implemented to understand how they would react and adapt to this change. Most readers planned not to pay and ultimately did not. Instead, they devalued the newspaper, visited its Web site less frequently, and used loopholes, particularly those who thought the paywall would lead to inequality. Results of an experimental justification manipulation revealed that framing the paywall in terms of financial necessity moderately increased support and willingness to pay.

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A Parting Shot, Reconsidered

Yesterday we blogged about Mark Bittman’s acrid comment about the death of a Chick-fil-A executive. (It would make a good postscript to our “Legacy of a Jerk” podcast.) Bittman has now apologized and removed the offending language from the original article.



Speaking Ill of the Dead Apparently Okay if the Dead Worked for Chick-fil-A

We recently put out a podcast called “Legacy of a Jerk,” which deals in large part with the ancient injunction against speaking ill of the dead. For the most part, this injunction is still widely obeyed. So I was quite surprised to see what Mark Bittman recently wrote on his N.Y. Times blog:

Sysco is the latest food giant—it’s the largest food distributor in the country—to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs. The National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was quoted in the National Journal saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” Really.

Speaking of pigs, the VP of PR for Chick-fil-A dropped dead of a heart attack the week after the chain’s latest homophobia/anti-gay marriage scandal. Here’s an obit, and here’s more about him. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A had record-breaking profits after its President, Dan Cathy, drew a line in the sand over same-sex marriage.

I read that “speaking of pigs” line three or four times to make sure I understood. At first I thought that Bittman was speaking metaphorically — that no one had in fact died. (But he did: the man’s name was Don Perry.) Then I thought maybe the Times page had been hacked, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either. FWIW, here’s a screenshot: Read More »



N.Y. Times, Playing Role of the Pot, Calls the Wall Street Journal’s Kettle Black

I love the New York Times (and not just because I used to work there) but goodness gracious, this kind of thing really hurts its credibility.

An article about News Corp.’s decision to split off its publishing business (including the Wall Street Journal) from its entertainment business contains the following sentence:

Both companies would maintain their controversial dual-class share stock structure, which enables the Murdoch family to control nearly 40 percent of the voting power.

Well, guess what other family-run news organization maintains a dual-class share stock structure? Yes, the New York Times — as well as the Washington Post and others, as Rupert Murdoch pointed out in announcing News Corp.’s move. This fact, however, isn’t mentioned in the Times article. But here’s the reality: given the turmoil in the newspaper business in general and at the Times in particular, it’d be easy to argue that if anyone’s dual-class ownership is “controversial,” it is the Times‘s more than the Journal‘s.

The Times article also omits that the new publishing unit will include News Corp.’s education unit and HarperCollins, one of the world’s largest book publishers. (Our books are published by William Morrow, a division of HC.) The Journal‘s coverage of the story is superior. Read More »



Good Reading in This Weekend’s Times

1. Adam Davidson on high-end nannies.

2. Nathaniel Penn with a snapshot of a recent class of college grads (depressing).

3. Alicia Tugend with a fascinating piece about how we remember and process criticism/bad events more forcefully than praise/good events. It’s a psychological take on loss aversion, with good examples from Clifford Nass, Roy Baumeister, and Teresa Amabile.



How Biased Is Your Media?: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

When it comes to politics and media, the left argues that the right is more biased than the left while the right argues that the left is more biased than the right. Who’s right?

That’s what we try to answer in our latest podcast, “How Biased Is Your Media?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) In a way, this episode is a follow-up to a podcast we put out a few months ago called “The Truth Is Out There, Isn’t It?,” which examined how we choose to believe what we believe about a variety of important issues. In this episode, we apply that same idea in a small-bore fashion, going after media bias. Read More »



SuperFreakonomics Back on the Times Best-Seller List

We just got word that the new paperback edition of SuperFreakonomics will land on the 6/12 New York Times best-seller list. Freakonomics is still on the list too (88 weeks on paperback list after >100 on hardcover), and it’ll be fun to see if baby brother can hang in as long as the original. Thanks to all for reading!



How Much Demand Will There Be for Circumventing New York Times Paywall?

A Forbes.com article by Jeff Bercovici discusses the New York Times‘s plan to shut down a rogue Twitter feed called FreeNYTimes, which is meant to circumvent the Times‘s upcoming metered model (some people call it a paywall). As Bercovici writes: It’s clever, but it’s not kosher. “We have asked Twitter to disable this feed as […] Read More »