|Media and culture columnist David Carr, left, meets with media desk editor Bruce Headlam, right in the|
Magnolia Pictures documentary "Page One."
When the New York Times unveiled the porous pay wall, it showed the world an experiment to find a potential model to fund journalism: If you read more than 20 of our articles a month, we’re going to need some kind compensation.
When that news organization announced in July that its combined paid digital readership was near 400,000 after just four months (a figure that includes Kindle users), bloggers and media analyst began to speculate that NYT’s plan was working.
Some of these same people pointed out that those digital subscribers may only bring in $100 million, whereas the entire revenue for the Times is near $2 billion. For comparison, digital advertising yields $350 million.
Critics pointed to this fact and cried that the Times was changing dollars for pennies. Yet other analysts insisted that since digital subscribers can now be quantified and targeted, digital ad revenue would likely see an increase. (It’s accepted that a person who pays even $1 for a magazine or other print item is much more valuable to advertisers than a person who picks up a free publication.)
The documentarians making the movie “Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” had unlimited access to the Times during filming, and they used this to set up the tension behind that business move. As the movie slowly made its way across the United States, it meandered into our beloved local art theater just in time for a documentary film festival on Sept. 11.