Build that Paywall

It’s not a surprise that the Times Union has shoved it’s popular staff written blogs behind the paywall. Steve Barnes addressed this in an apologetic post in his Table Hopping food blog, explaining that the paywall also applies to Capitol Confidential and Kristi Gustafson Barlette’s blog.

Hey, I get it, content has value.

I subscribe to the digital edition of the New York Times and get the Times Union delivered, which also gives me access to their online content. I may joke about the TU, but I still like reading an actual local newspaper — even though it may infect me with COVID-19.

And it’s all good — mostly.

But here’s the thing: if I pay for your newspaper, I should not be subjected to a barrage of trashy click-bait advertising, like what’s found on every page of the Times Union’s website. It’s full of garbage ads for nonsense websites, celebrity news, slideshows, unwanted videos that auto-play — if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go to any story on their site and scroll down.

I believe in advertising, and legitimate ads from local and national advertisers are welcome — even targeted ads that prey upon the instincts and desires tracked by my browsing habits. What the Times Union is doing, however, is destroying the user experience for those who visit their website. Period.

Advertising is a social contract, of sorts. I’ve pointed out the relationship we agree to have with a lot of television content: I watch your ads in exchange for being informed and entertained. When the ads are intrusive and onerous? Then the contract is broken — and if I’m actually paying and still seeing all those shitty ads, shame on you.

11 thoughts on “Build that Paywall

  1. We subscribe to the on line digital version and get the Sunday paper delivered.
    I don’t feel I should have to be subjected to the paywall. Shame on the Times Useless.

    1. Well, if you get Sunday delivered, in theory, your subscription should include online access without having to pay extra. You may want to call them.

  2. And the decay of the TU’s community blog support continues. For example, if you wanted to bookmark Rob Hoffman’s “Hoffman Files” page by clicking on his name, it only shows his most recent post as being from 2017 – even though he’s been writing regularly since that time, including a post last week.

    Will the last community blogger to leave the TU portal please turn off the light?

    1. Yes, that’s strange. I notice that if you scroll down, after the three old posts it’s normal. The other blogs I checked all appear as they should, so it could be a couple of things:

      -User action. Did the blogger do something that causes these older posts to be “pinned” to the front page, whether intentionally or accidentally. Not sure if the dashboard allows writers to do that, however.

      -Some odd glitch resulting from a WordPress upgrade.

      -A conspiracy against Rob Hoffman by George Hearst and the staff of the Times Union, spurred by a long simmering vendetta.

      Either way, shit happens, and he can probably get it fixed by sending them an email. Except the conspiracy part. There’s no fixing that.

  3. I wrote this blog post on the TU portal in 2010, referencing an earlier one also written there, right after the (first?) blog summit thing, where I believe you (first?) rolled out the outstanding “whitewashing the fence” analogy:

    As it turns out, I made some predictions for what 2020 would look like. I left the market in 2011, so have only been able to see what’s unfolded on the digital side, but curious as to whether the overall analysis of the market resonates with those who still live there.

    And speaking of vendetta, the stuff I wrote there remains online to this day, despite my protests, even after I removed it, and they put it back . . . only removing the anti-TU posts that ended my run there.

    But those have been up on my website ever since. Fair’s fair.

    1. The Gazette continues to be a pretty solid print vehicle, but who knows? They could be hemorrhaging money and ready to slip into shock. The TU? The very presence of all those awful and useless ads should tell us that they have serious revenue problems. I think they did an epically bad job of seeing what the future would look like, and missed many opportunities over the years.

  4. uBlock Origin. Use this exclusively on the TU website (not in combination with any other ad blocker), and not only does it stop all the ads, but it eradicates the paywall. The only thing it doesn’t stop is the annoying pop-up video (which almost exclusively features The Moron-In-Chief).

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