As the hardworking staff has noted, the New York Times is searching hither and yon for new revenue sources, including the Times Journeys travel agency, the Times Store retail outlet, and New York Times Conferences, which brings together the international chinstrokerati “to deepen understanding of vital topics, advance innovative solutions to major challenges and provide new opportunities for businesses.”
Especially new revenue opportunities for the Times.
Representative samples of other money-makers (from Sunday’s edition).
Peak Timeselling, yeah?
But wait – there’s also the Times’s acquisition of The Wirecutter, a product-recommendation website.
We’ll yield to Times Public Editor Liz Spayd on this one.
Reviewing Toaster Ovens, and Selling Them, Too
The New York Times grabbed a few modest headlines earlier this week when it purchased a popular website called The Wirecutter that recommends a variety of consumer products to its customers. The Times paid an estimated $30 million, a relatively small sum for a media giant that takes in that much revenue every seven days.
And so the news came and went fairly quickly — big company buys small start-up, foothold gained in new market, meager profits expected soon.
That’s how it may look, but much more than that is in store. The acquisition of Wirecutter could not only usher in a new revenue model for The Times, it could also introduce a significant new dimension to The Times’s deeply ingrained relationship with its readers.
As Spayd notes:
This is a significant change from the trifecta that has sustained journalism for centuries: the news organization, the reader and the advertiser. Traditionally, newsrooms focused on journalism and mostly stayed away from recommending consumer goods. Advertisers did the product recommending, by purchasing ads adjacent to the news. The readers, meanwhile, either found the ads useful or accepted them as part of the price for getting quality news.
But the Wirecutter deal leads the Times into uncharted waters: So-called affiliate links that can enrich the newspaper but undermine its credibility as an honest broker of information.
Scylla and Charybdis, anyone?