The Problem with Pricetags: Classmates.com & NY Times

Posted by: Diane Brady on September 18, 2007

The New York Times has finally scrapped Times Select — the service that charges online users a fee to read certain columns, archives and blogs. It turns out advertisers didn’t like it, and neither did the columnists whose readership declined after their work went behind a paid wall.

I didn’t like it, either. Although I buy the Times almost every day for my subway ride, I’m not a subscriber. So going online meant having to pay an extra fee for content that frankly was usually picked up by the blogs, in any case. The added value just wasn’t that great when I was scanning for headlines and had already seen most of the paper.

Classmates.com is a different case of charging for content. What bothers me here is that the company seduces users into signing up for free membership (I think I was linked to it from some other site once) and then requires them to upgrade to a paid service to check any messages that are sent their way.

I don’t want to pay a monthly fee just to see who signed a guestbook when I didn’t even write up a profile. And yet I get a constant steam of e-mails from the site, so now I am trying to take all traces of myself out of there. It may boast 40 million members but I wonder how many of them actually find the site to be bothersome. Something to think about as it prepares for its public offer.

Reader Comments

Thomas

September 18, 2007 12:02 PM

Thanks Diane for the notice about NY Times Select. Good for them and good for all of us! I was seriously considering signing up for Select JUST to read a certain economist's column there (guess who) but decided not to -- thought it was a waste of money even though it's not all that much. This is truly sad for the NY Times because I've been an active subscriber at Classmates since 1999 and in fact recently renewed my subscription for another two years. I have fond memories of my days in high school and college and had good success there with connecting with a few of my old friends. When you've moved across the country like I did, sites like Classmates help. But I don't think I'll renew next time now that I've found LinkedIn. Not all of my classmates are there -- only the ambitious ones! Thomas :-)

Post a comment

 

About

How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!