New York Times & Digital Double Standards

The New York Times has been a pointy edge of the coverage on Facebook, Google and Big Tech domination of our daily lives. They have often presented (relentless) wonderful reporting only to counterbalance it with hyperbolic opinions.

As a subscriber, who is (happily and) willingly paying for his digital subscription, I am at liberty to ignore those hysterical opinion writers, ignore the Times biases and instead focus on the reporting — which is the only reason I am delighted to pay for Times. (I am one of the four million digital subscribers.)

However, the Times is hypocritical, to put it mildly. While it talks about a surveillance advertising technology ecosystem, the company itself is a willing participant — its web pages and apps are jam-packed with advertising and tracking scripts. It complains about Facebook ads in the news stream, and yet it blasts large ads in your face on its website and in the applications. The reading experience is deprecated by really big ads, which honestly has lead to the use of ad-blockers and a deep dislike for their product.

By the way, last time I wrote about the New York Times, I offered some suggestions for the company, and how they could accelerate a move away from advertising. Instead, they want to double down on making more prescient advertising.

It was suggested that personalization is another type of surveillance opportunity. And yet now they want to experiment with an approach that generously is Facebook-lite; minus all your fake friends. What makes me nervous about The New York Times is that as a technology company they are not very competent. Their apps are a good example of them being not very good. What’s worse is that it is for the sole purpose of advertising — it is good for The Times — but doesn’t really doesn’t add anything to my life. In other words, big media being big media.

And all of this was okay if advertising was their sole way to support themselves — but they charge for a subscription, and that should give me an option to opt out of advertising. It is not my fault that Times managers lack the guts to offer ad-free experience (at a higher price) and instead they go along with the charade of display and brand advertising, which at best is there to be blocked by an ad-blocker.

November 6, 2018. San Francisco.


A letter from Om

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