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An Annoying Change Over at Nytimes.com

Back when the New York Times first set up their webpage at http://www.nytimes.com, I found myself visiting it fairly frequently. Growing up in a newspaper-oriented family in New York City, I was an avid reader of the Times, the Post, Newsday, and of course, The Daily News (where my father worked from before I was born until the day he died). The Times required registration to read articles on their webpage, but this never struck me as an onerous thing, as they didn't sell your email address to anyone and allowed you to opt out of receiving their bulk emails.

They did make a point of reserving the right to change over to a "pay" format at some point, but so far, they never have done so. I presume they continue to support the cost of the webpage via advertising and other sources.

One nice benefit of their webpage was the ability to email articles to friends. Frequently, when reading the newspaper, I would find articles I wanted to share with someone, generally gnomi. In the old, pre-Internet days, I would have to save the article until she had a chance to read it. Now, I could send a copy of the article to her, or to any friend, with just a few clicks of the mouse. I could also send myself a copy of the article as well. They also had the option of just sending the link, but the link was always included with the emailed full article, so I rarely used that option.

Last week, however, they changed their system. Apparently, from now on, when you click on the link to email an article to a friend, you can no longer email the full text of the article. All you can do now is send an email which contains a link to the article. I presume that if you do this and your friend is not a registered user, they will still be allowed to access the full article, but I'm not sure about that at the moment. What I do know is that I am annoyed by this change. Yes, I know that a lot of other news sites never had the option to send the full article, just the link, but I never liked that system. Sometimes I wanted a copy of the article for my own reference because I thought I saw the seeds of a good story in it. I presume that the NY Times has switched over either to protect their copyrights or get a better idea of how many people are actually reading the emailed articles. Maybe both, but the first seems more likely, as they make a point of charging for content over a week old. And I know that they have the right to decide precisely how they want to offer their content.

But when you've gotten used to a system that works well, and when they change it by fiat without any warning to their registered users...that's annoying.
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Cut and paste?
One could do that, but some of their articles are spread over multiple webpages, with links at the bottom to go to the next page. It makes what had been a rather frictionless process more onerous.

I know I didn't offer to rant on anything, but I guess I did. :-)
If they still have a printer-friendly format, that might be doable for cut and paste.
Hmmm...you mean, load that one webpage and then copy all the text from there? I might check it out.
I tried the cut and paste from the "single page" article and sent an article to gnomi. We'll see what it looks like to her.
I presume that if you do this and your friend is not a registered user, they will still be allowed to access the full article, but I'm not sure about that at the moment.
Nope. The recipient still needs to register. I find this annoying enough that I just never follow New York Times links. If I have a headline I can often find the same article picked up by some other paper (sometimes the IHT) with Google. Otherwise, news.google.com will find me lots of other articles on the same topic.

The “newspaper of record” isn’t for me, alas, and I’m sure they would be if they didn’t require registration.
Have you tried bugmenot (www.bugmenot.com)? They're very handy for sites that require registration.
There's a webpage called the New York Times link generator at http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink. If the Times is syndicating an article, those of who want to link to it for people who don't want to resgister can enter the main link there, and out pops a "weblog-safe link," as they call it.

If the recipient still needs to register, that's annoying. Occasionally a friend of mine will send me links to articles from the Wall Street Journal webpage. He pays their annual fee for access to their content, but the link he sends allows me to access the chosen article without requiring me to register or pay. The Times really ought to do something similar.
If they won't even send the first few paragraphs with the link, they're shooting themselves in the foot. Lots of us just won't follow an arbitrary link with no context. You've got to supply the teaser, at least.
With the one article I sent, they included a tag line along with the title, explaining what the article was about. So it's not just a blank link they send.
I've seen various stories in the past couple of weeks that state that the Times is seriously thinking about going to pay content, probably in the next six months or so.

If they do, I suspect they will lose a lot of readers. They had better tread carefully.
If this were the only thing going wrong with the Times, I'd be happy. (From a purely professional POV, I have watched as their arts coverage has become dumbed down and made much more "pop" in shock.)

December 2016

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