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What would a New York Times for the youngs look like?

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The New York Times (s NYT) is testing some kind of “entry-level” product aimed at a younger, more Internet-y audience, new CEO Mark Thompson said in the company’s earnings call Thursday. Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici followed up, and an unidentified source tells him that NYT Junior — which is seriously going to need a better name — “would be targeted not at very young readers but at college students and twenty-somethings. The idea would be to offer them a limited-content version at a price point calibrated to a just-starting-out-in-life budget.”

A spokeswoman tells me there are no details to share yet; it’s just something being tested. But if the Times actually does this, what would the product look like? As a (late) twenty-something, I felt qualified to speculate.

What should it cost?

Not only am I completely capable of reading the adult version of the Times all by myself, I get the print version delivered on the weekends. This is actually kind of a steal because in New York City, where I live, weekend home delivery includes all-digital access and is only $7.20 a week, compared to digital-only access at $8.75 a week. Plus on weekends when I’m not home, I can just cancel delivery for those days, get my account credited and still have digital access all month: That’s why I paid just $11.80 for December, a month when I was traveling a lot, and I probably visited every day that month.

Assuming the NYT doesn’t ban this practice at some point, and I hope they don’t (I don’t do it that often — I swear!), $11.80 is a really good deal for a full month of digital access. Could “NYT Junior” (which I’ll call the concept throughout this piece because it’s apparently how they’re referring to it in-house) conceivably cost less than that? Let’s say they charge $10 to $15 a month for online/tablet/smartphone access, about half of what it costs for everybody now: If the content is limited, that’s a worse deal than what I’m getting now.

Which content would be removed?

“We’ll definitely leave in the Styles section. But let’s take out International, Dining and the Book Review…” This line of thinking, while easy to imagine, would be a mistake. I assume college students and recent grads care most about the sections of the paper that older people also care most about: The investigative reporting, the book review section that’s been cut from so many other newspapers, Paul Krugman — the stuff that can’t be duplicated, the serious coverage that makes the TimesĀ Times-y. Stories like these, meanwhile, seem less fresh despite the fact that they focus on the very millennials the NYT is trying to reach. And much of the coverage that some NYT exec might think is most aimed at a younger audience could be, in fact, the same stuff that is most easily found for free all over the internet.

Can you customize it?

But maybe some twenty-somethings really love the Styles section and couldn’t care less about the book review. So why not offer a customizable package that allows an “entry-level” reader to select the content — by section — that he or she wants to pay for?

Maybe each section of the paper could be assigned some dollar value: The stuff that normally appears in the A section of the print paper (or in the International/U.S./Politics sections online), for instance, could be $5 a month; all the Arts coverage could be another $5, or could be broken out by type (books, music and so on) and charged for that way; the Styles, Dining and Home sections could cost $2 each per month; the magazine could be $3… This might be tough to put in place technologically, but the idea is that the user would then have access to all of the sections he or she chooses online and through apps. The other sections might fall under a metered paywall or simply not be available to those who aren’t paying for them.

This could be a great way to let younger readers dabble in NYT coverage without committing fully. There’s one potential problem: If they roll this option out to younger people, older people are going to want it, too. But that might not be such a bad thing: Such a payment model would give the paper’s execs a chance to see exactly which content readers value most, and which content they’re willing to pay for.

12 Responses to “What would a New York Times for the youngs look like?”

  1. Shalabh Pandey

    Not a bad idea.
    News, unlike magazines, has been treated in a very ‘templatized’ fashion by all media publications. Inspite of the fact that different demographics understand, appreciate and imbibe content in different ways.
    It might be because news has to be fast, and the economies of scale need a publisher to focus on broad content and distribution.
    As long as news and features are treated according to some level of demographic personalization, there is an interesting gap to be filled in.
    I am the founder of a unique News, Enrichment and Entertainment publication (The Whiz Times) that brings news to kids and families- selected, handpicked features and storytelling approach with custom news for different age groups- all at one stop.
    This is the kind of content- people (parents) would be willing to pay for, and kids/families will enjoy because it is produced specifically for them.More importantly, because advertisers are looking for more and more relevancy in their advertising, (and all kinds of ad targeting cannot distinguish between quality of content yet)- this is appealing to brands for marketing purposes too.

  2. @ranjanxroy Thanks so much for that answer! I wish I could upvote it or something :)

    The NYT requires you to cancel the paper 2 days in advance. It’s possible that that has something to do with advertisers, because it used to be one day in advance — I noticed that changed sometime in late 2012. (It could also have to do with the logistics of paper delivery, but I think their system for that is pretty well honed in Manhattan.)

  3. David Thomas

    I feel as if I have a special qualitative marketing insight on this issue because, in lieu of job offers, I’ve returned to school for a new degree. I see and interact with the target audience as a peer, at a school where graduate students intermingle with the undergraduates closely in an urban setting, around 25K students total.

    There is much I could say in detail, but the sum of all is this:

    The venture is doomed.

    • I agree. I’m mid-twenties myself, and it’s clear that people my age (and certainly younger) have no interest in paying for news. Why?

      1. They can get their news from another source for free.
      2. They get their sites from many other sources (also for free).

      I, personally, have no interest in paying for one publication when I can access thousands of others–different viewpoints, different levels of experience and expertise–without paying a thing. Gone are the days when you subscribe to one source of news.

  4. There is no future in payed content , why don’t they ever learn.Thinking small and going for a quick buck.
    The Daily Mail gets about as much traffic as NYT and that’s a british tabloid , NYT should just be ashamed . AOL gets more traffic and AOL died 10 years ago.
    Shareholders should just sue the board at this point, all they are doing is eroding the brand and wasting time.
    They got to deliver the best product possible and that best product is free, If they aim any lower they are fools. As it is,it is difficult for people to keep up with news and social networks,, make their life harder and they’ll just drop you.
    They wouldn’t try to sell print editions carved in stone, it’s a bit more convenient to use paper , someone should let them know that logic applies online too.

    • We dunno for sure if paywall system doesn’t work yet…clearly there are plenty of users comfortable paying a small price for ultimate access from anywhere. I think the idea paywall wont work in the long run for news content has something to do with everything gets leak on the internet. Unlike music and video, news value on internet is very very short. The concept of paying for exclusive news makes no sense to me, I would rather watch a 15-30 sec ad for access to article(s) then pay for it when you know the same info is available elsewhere for free…I’m surprised no news site is giving this concept a chance,

      Youtube is finally getting this down to a science. I like to know how many ads were viewed and generated by Psy’s Gangnam Style video alone…think any new articles can ever be read 1.2 billion times? Figure that out and you have a cash cow and NYT wont ever need to talk about layoffs again. News value is on accuracy and time sensitive…paywall access can only help NYT with some additional income and keep it running for so long before they need to cut more staff again.

      • NYT should be looking at adding 100 mil new readers/year not at paywalls. They should be happy for having a chance to go global instead of reducing their user base with paywalls. Their immediate goal shouldn’t be how to get payed more/page but how to increase traffic.They got a strong brand and good reputation ,they need to use that to grow instead of depleting it with paywalls.Videos ahead of text are a bad idea (and videos with sound ahead of anything without sound are a terrible idea). Online the goal must always be to make life easier for the user , navigation, load times. NYT even needs to change their headlines , they use caps a lot and that makes it harder to read:
        In California, Reading the Snow to Tell the Future for the Water Supply
        In California, reading the snow to tell the future for the water supply

        As for other media i am sure that has to go free at some point too , music is almost there (you go to youtube and that’s that) and at some point someone will manage to offer video free too but that’s a bit off topic so i won’t go into details.

  5. “Weekend home delivery includes all-digital access and is only $7.20 a week, compared to digital-only access at $8.80 a week.”

    Digital-only costs more than digital plus weekends? Am I missing something?

    • No, it’s just cheaper (keep in mind I’m just getting the paper version Saturday and Sunday). I’m not sure the home delivery pricing is the same outside NYC, though. Here’s the digital pricing from their website: + Smartphone App:* $3.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $15.00) from any computer or device
      NYTimes app for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android-powered phones + Tablet App:* $5.00 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $20.00) from any computer or device
      NYTimes app for iPad and Android-powered tablets, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes App for the Chrome Web Store
      All Digital Access:* $8.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $35.00) from any computer or device
      NYTimes app for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android-powered phones
      NYTimes app for iPad and Android-powered tablets, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes App for the Chrome Web Store
      The ability to share digital access with a family member

      • ranjanxroy

        Rich: The “steal” price for digital + print vs. digital only is basically an easy way to make potentially unwarranted ad revenue

        With a digital only sub, Laura’s only paying advertisers per page viewed every month and that’s not very substantial. The beauty of the NYT having a print copy show up at her doorstep on Sat/Sun is that they’re charging every advertiser in there as though she’s read every single ad, and especially for the weekend editions, there’s a whole lot more ads.

        Ad Revenue from 2 days of print > (cost of delivery and materials + $1.20 difference).

        Reader feels like they’re somehow getting a great deal and the paper gets to keep their weekend print ad revs up. Everyone wins (kinda, except for the advertisers…at least for the people who don’t really read the paper).

        Actually would be curious, for the weekends that Laura cancels her delivery last-minute, whether the NYT still charges the advertisers as though the paper gets delivered (imagine a lot of that is sold on expected subs, not actual final delivery).