The New News

This week in class we were assigned to read a case study about paywalls. Specifically, the article discussed a history of The New York Times paywall and the paywall trend in the newspaper industry. Paywalls are online payment systems that require online newspaper readers to pay for reading articles.

The New York Times has what is called a “soft” wall because it allows readers to read up to 10 articles for free per month, before having to pay for the content. It seems this paywall and previous iterations of it have been met with criticism because many people feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for their news. And while I am the first person to admit that all my news consumption comes from free articles online, I still have mixed feelings about the paywall.

Newspapers (the print versions) were and are not free.  However, news today is consumed very differently and the same business model that worked for newspapers does not work for their digital counterparts. People today don’t entirely rely on a newspaper to get their daily dose of news. And with so many free online news sources available, it is difficult to justify charging people to read content.

I think the soft wall is a happy compromise. For people who already subscribe to the paper version, this is not even an issue. And for people who read more than 10 articles per month, they can either pay, wait out the month, or read another newspaper. News, after all is (supposed to be) unbiased, so if you just want a high-level read on a subject, the internet has plenty of free and reputable news outlets available.

What are your thoughts on paywalls? Are you one of The New York Times loyalists? Do you pay for your content online?

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BOOM Goes The Dynamite

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I had genuinely convinced myself I was going to learn to play all the instruments in a band so that I could play on stage at different venues and be awesome. Eventually I got bored of that idea and decided to become a rock collector in search of the “perfect rock”. That lasted almost three months until my backpack got too heavy to carry around with all the rocks I collected.  So then I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist and dig for dinosaurs in my backyard. That lasted about a day until I realized digging for dinosaurs literally meant I would have to dig. So then I turned my focus to becoming a writer for the purpose of  making it on the cover of Time magazine as the “Writer of the Century.” Apparently just becoming a writer wasn’t good enough. I needed to become the writer of the century.

I clearly had a lot of big ideas and aspirations growing up. Even at present, I sometimes find myself planning some grandiose event or project, even when I have no business in the matter. Having these big dreams may be good sometimes, but sometimes knowing which ones should take precedence really helps with productivity.

Last week as part of a class assignment, we were asked to watch this video:

We were then asked to take The Fascination Test Sally Hogshead talks about in the video.

According to Sally, everyone has specific triggers that define their personality, or as she puts it, your brand. After taking the test, I found out that  my primary trigger is PASSION and my secondary trigger is PRESTIGE.  Together, these two triggers create what’s called “The Talent.” (See image below from the results)

So what does this all mean?

Well, according to the results, I have “vivid aspirations [and] fearlessly dream big”. Check.

I am also “an optimistic and ‘big picture’ thinker, intuitive, expressive, social, impulsive, ambitious, uncompromising, focused on adding value through better execution, conscientious of the smallest details and expect the highest quality deliverables from myself and others”….And on and on it goes…

What I really liked about the report is that, unlike so many other of these types of tests, it also suggested an action plan for the best use of my strengths (and yes, even my weaknesses) in my everyday personal and professional life.

So while there isn’t anything wrong with having a ton of big ideas and dreams, knowing about yourself really goes a long way in the process of achieving these dreams. What I find comforting is that I actually have been able to take my big dreams and make them amount to something. Let’s see how my next dream fares…

The World at Your Fingertips

Not many things are available online. At least that’s what I used to think. And then I discovered Amazon.

With the exception of produce, I have purchased everything from food, to furniture, to clothes, to toiletries, to jewelry, to books, and cleaning supplies from Amazon. The convenience factor Amazon provides is worth every penny I have spent on the site. And speaking of pennies, Amazon’s prices are really reasonable, at times even lower than brick and mortar stores.

AmazonAmazon’s strategy is simple. They provide everything (or almost everything) a person can possibly need to purchase in one convenient location. Even their logo says it all. The arrow goes from the ‘A’ to the ‘Z’ and serves as a smiley face in the process. Hadn’t noticed? Check out the logo for yourself on the left!

Not only is their product availability really broad, but their customer service is equally as accessible. I have had a couple of issues with the delivery of some items, and Amazon’s customer service department has provided me with excellent service every time.

I really feel that Amazon has made itself a part of its customer’s lives without them really realizing it. I first started using Amazon for school books. And then I decided to use it for other miscellaneous items. When my friend gave me the Kindle Fire for Christmas a few years ago, I started using it for movies and apps. And then, suddenly I was buying everything from their site. When I moved to New York, I really found it extra helpful given I didn’t have a car and having bulkier items delivered to my place made things really simple.

I have thought long and hard about where Amazon might fall short. They have customer reviews, easy returns, prime membership perks, etc. But e-commerce is still fairly new, so I would imagine that Amazon’s consumer base tends to skew on the younger end. According to Quantcast, Amazon’s largest consumer base is between 25-34, followed by the 35-44. The lowest groups are under 18 (that’s a given) and those who are 65+. I really don’t think this has much to do with Amazon so much as the 65+ group not being accustomed to shopping for their things online. However, as Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers get older and fill that category, I am sure Amazon’s demographics will be more evenly spread out.

What do you think about buying things online? Is there a specific item you purchase online all the time?

Inspiration

It has been a few months since I last wrote on here. I could say it’s because my first few months in New York have been a whirlwind (really!) but I have admittedly been avoiding writing in here. Part of me feels that I have nothing good enough to contribute. And part of me is just.plain.scared.

I have been going back and forth for some time trying to figure out what I want this blog to be about. My reason for starting this blog was directly tied to my moving to New York (read here) but there are so many things that I want to try to write about that I don’t want to just make it about living in the city. Also, the fear of writing has been so paralyzing, I have put off writing anything. But this semester, I am taking a class in Digital Marketing, and one of the weekly assignments is to write a blog post. And even that has made me a little queasy. But then, as if the universe had heard my calling, I came across this on my way home from work:

InspirationImage from here.

It was on display in the window of an art gallery I have walked by every morning since I moved here. I hadn’t previously really paid much attention to it, but today for some reason I decided to stop and actually read it. It was simple; black font on white paper with a simple black frame. As cliche as it may sound, it was just what I needed. One line really stuck out: “Start doing things you love.” This blog, to me, is something I love – it is the reason I started this in the first place. So I will begin again with love.