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January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" 
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Gaffer

Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:26 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
I actually agree with James almost entirely about newsprint annoyances. I have always felt that way and have been sharing that opinion for years. I hate having to manage clutter. I hate how easily the paper falls apart. I hate folding it. I don't like how it feels on my hands, whether I notice ink on them or not. Dealing with newspapers is inherently unpleasant and is only worthwhile for the content.

Given the reasons I read the news are only marginally compelling, the inconvenience of newsprint doesn't have to be overwhelming to be significant. The vast majority of news does not affect my life in a significant way, and it is therefore not worth the inherent unpleasantness of newsprint to obtain. In fact I generally find that I am happier not reading any news at all, online or not.

Anyway, as for making money with the site-- I would probably pay a yearly fee of $25 for access to Reelviews since James is the reviewer whose tastes seem to most closely match my own (when friends filter using tomatometer I use reelviews). But I don't use the site enough to justify a $10/mo membership, and I don't know anyone who does. I also probably wouldn't pay just to get rid of ads. I definitely enjoy ReelThoughts but probably wouldn't pay for them.


Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:02 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Hi James,

Take a look at Jerry Pournelle's day book (since '94 I think) which he runs on the "public radio model," he asks readers who value his site to subscribe, and he'll keep it running as long as it pays for itself.

http://www.jerrypournelle.com

As far as online news vs. newsprint....it's not even an argument. In the time it would take me to flop around a newspaper to start reading a page, I could bring up 10 different sources (tradtional AP/UPI/Reuters + new online-only sources such as blogs + the local news sources where it happened + video if available) and have several perspectives on a story. RSS feeds....Google News....it's not even close, guys.

With the heavy bias in traditional media, depth of field is necessary to see some truth. I read EVERYTHING, and the less editorial hands between me and the information, the better.

_________________
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-P.J. O'Rourke


Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:37 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Baelzar wrote:
As far as online news vs. newsprint....it's not even an argument. In the time it would take me to flop around a newspaper to start reading a page, I could bring up 10 different sources (tradtional AP/UPI/Reuters + new online-only sources such as blogs + the local news sources where it happened + video if available) and have several perspectives on a story. RSS feeds....Google News....it's not even close, guys.


Yup... 10 different sources, and 1/10th of the full story.


Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:53 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Baelzar wrote:
As far as online news vs. newsprint....it's not even an argument. In the time it would take me to flop around a newspaper to start reading a page, I could bring up 10 different sources (tradtional AP/UPI/Reuters + new online-only sources such as blogs + the local news sources where it happened + video if available) and have several perspectives on a story. RSS feeds....Google News....it's not even close, guys.


Now that you mention it: how do you think AP, Reuters & the "local news sources" will continue to operate if there won't be money to be made in print OR on the internet? And where will those blogs and google news get their input from?


Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:26 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
James Berardinelli wrote:
Many will already note the absence of reviews of LEGION, THE TOOTH FAIRY, etc.


I don't think many of us will begrudge you for skipping those. :D


Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:30 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
The podcast model seems to work decently well, in just asking people to help out. Its extra money, not a lot, but maybe enough to pay for the hosting.

What I'd like to see on sites is the ability to 'click here to pay $1' or something like that. Something very easy. Maybe more sites will have a 'text a message to ##### to donate to this site'. In the future we'll probably have an even simpler way.

What NYTimes should do, in my primitive opinion, is offer a subscription fee to get the site in a better format, such as Kindle-specific, or iPad specific (maybe they do already?). ISomenews sites mix the free and pay, and I'll admit as well, I rarely return to them.

I think one of the problems is that when I'm in the mood to buy a book at Amazon, I rarely do so while at a site, its more that I go to my computer to go to Amazon to get a book. I wish I'd remember 'hey I want to buy something online, I'll go to REelViews and hope an Amazon link pops up.' But I never do.


Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:24 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Dunkeltroll wrote:
Now that you mention it: how do you think AP, Reuters & the "local news sources" will continue to operate if there won't be money to be made in print OR on the internet? And where will those blogs and google news get their input from?
The news delivery business is changing, but not the news itself. Plenty of TV and Radio news (local and cable) comes directly from the wire; they all subscribe. All of them. AP/UPI/Reuters aren't going anywhere.

In fact, one of the best reporters in my market is a radio guy (he had an impact in our latest mayoral election) and radio is making money here. So are TV stations, and the real reporters are the off-camera producers - not the blow-dried anchor reading the teleprompter. Our local TV stations have websites, and they print news. Good reporters will have a place, as will the crossword guy, the horoscope guy, and the movie review guy.

Personally? I think capital-J Journalism is damned near dead anyway. I have difficulty finding objectivity anywhere, so I need as many sources as I can get. I do not believe for a second that the NYT is some magical truth machine that can fit more story into a column inch than other newspapers, or a website, or an actual video of the event.

_________________
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-P.J. O'Rourke


Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:32 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Baelzar wrote:
Personally? I think capital-J Journalism is damned near dead anyway. I have difficulty finding objectivity anywhere, so I need as many sources as I can get. I do not believe for a second that the NYT is some magical truth machine that can fit more story into a column inch than other newspapers, or a website, or an actual video of the event.[/color]


You are right about objectivity. And I dont think anyone said the NYTs is a truth machine.

But just compare an in-depth NYT article with the same story from most any other source. There's really no comparison.

And they can fit more story in, cause their font is so damn small :) OK, did I just make a case against print? Darn...


Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:28 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
I don't mind paying to access the NYT website but only if they publish more lengthy investigative pieces or feature articles/commentaries (like the recent articles about the e.coli in frozen beef patties, the malfunctions of radiotherapy machines, and ok even that article about James Patterson - it was entertaining). This is the reason I'm willing to pay money for a subscription to The Atlantic or The New Yorker. I wouldn't pay just for the news because you can get those for free at other websites like CNN, ABCNews, NBCNews, Yahoo, etc. Do I enjoy reading the columnists? Yes, but not enough to pay money for it.


Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:05 pm
Gaffer

Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:26 pm
Posts: 9
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
MrGuinness wrote:
Baelzar wrote:
As far as online news vs. newsprint....it's not even an argument. In the time it would take me to flop around a newspaper to start reading a page, I could bring up 10 different sources (tradtional AP/UPI/Reuters + new online-only sources such as blogs + the local news sources where it happened + video if available) and have several perspectives on a story. RSS feeds....Google News....it's not even close, guys.


Yup... 10 different sources, and 1/10th of the full story.
Sometimes online coverage is deep. Sometimes print coverage is very shallow, assuming the story even made it to print to begin with.


Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:36 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Goladus wrote:
MrGuinness wrote:
Baelzar wrote:
As far as online news vs. newsprint....it's not even an argument. In the time it would take me to flop around a newspaper to start reading a page, I could bring up 10 different sources (tradtional AP/UPI/Reuters + new online-only sources such as blogs + the local news sources where it happened + video if available) and have several perspectives on a story. RSS feeds....Google News....it's not even close, guys.


Yup... 10 different sources, and 1/10th of the full story.
Sometimes online coverage is deep. Sometimes print coverage is very shallow, assuming the story even made it to print to begin with.


Unless you are only ready USA Today, print coverage for stories they tackle are FAR more in-depth than anything you will find online.

Here's just one example from this week. Go find the Howard Zinn's death coverage on cnn.com. 10 paragraphs, MAYBE 20 words per paragraph, which NEVER even made their front page. And that is an in-depth story for them. Then go find the coverage of his passing in the Times this week. Most online stories that come from the majors these days are just like reading a lite version of USA Today.

But listen, theres a reason for this. Most people these days like being in the dark. Its just the way of the world here in America. Maybe out there too. And most people = sales = profits = what america is mostly about.

The founding fathers would be amazed and appalled.


Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:57 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Subscription would doom the site to failure. I just read this tidbit about Newsday:

In late October, Newsday, the Long Island daily that the Dolans bought for $650 million, put its web site, newsday.com, behind a pay wall. The paper was one of the first non-business newspapers to take the plunge by putting up a pay wall, so in media circles it has been followed with interest. Could its fate be a sign of what others, including The New York Times, might expect?

So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to newsday.com?

The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class.

That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn't know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.

Michael Amon, a social services reporter, asked for clarification.

"I heard you say 35 people," he said, from Newsday's auditorium in Melville. "Is that number correct?"

Mr. Jimenez nodded.

Hellville, indeed.

The web site redesign and relaunch cost the Dolans $4 million, according to Mr. Jimenez. With those 35 people, they've grossed about $9,000.

In that time, without question, web traffic has begun to plummet, and, certainly, advertising will follow as well.


sheryl wrote:
I don't mind paying to access the NYT website but only if they publish more lengthy investigative pieces or feature articles/commentaries (like the recent articles about the e.coli in frozen beef patties, the malfunctions of radiotherapy machines, and ok even that article about James Patterson - it was entertaining). This is the reason I'm willing to pay money for a subscription to The Atlantic or The New Yorker. I wouldn't pay just for the news because you can get those for free at other websites like CNN, ABCNews, NBCNews, Yahoo, etc. Do I enjoy reading the columnists? Yes, but not enough to pay money for it.


Sheryl, would you pay money to subscribe to Reelviews?


Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:59 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
James Berardinelli wrote:
On the idea of donations, I have been toying with variations on the theme. One would be, as indicated in a few posts, allowing review requests for donations. Another would be selling hand-bound copies of a novel for a little over the binding cost. There are options to explore if things get dire. Right now, they're not dire. They're just not as rosy as they were a couple of years ago. Hey, someone just offered to buy the site for $50,000. (I said no.)


Why wait till things get dire for a donate button? If you put it on there now when things are not dire it will give you an idea of what to expect if things should go that route. Maybe you will be surprised. I certainly do not think people will be bothered by a donate button anymore then they are already bothered by the ads that are in place.

Personally, I would love to donate, as I feel like I already get a lot of out this site. Your reviews save me money by helping me make wise choices when I go to the theater. There is nothing worse then feeling robbed after seeing a movie and since I have been coming to reelviews.net that has not happened.


Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:45 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
ed_metal_head wrote:
The web site redesign and relaunch cost the Dolans $4 million, according to Mr. Jimenez.


This is part of the problem, of course. $4 million dollars on a website. Its comical...


Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:32 am
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
"ReelViews will never be a pay site. If the ads prove to be insufficient to support it, the site will close down."

I don't get it. I've been reading your reviews and commentary more or less regularly since the late nineties and always assumed your reviewing was more a labor of love than a means to the end of eventual profitability, as it is with so many others, especially those who don't love what they do. To hear that if this advertising thing doesn't work out you're simply going to shut down your site is more than a bit disillusioning for me, tantamount to an admission that your primary reason for doing what you do is money.

P.S. Given that Ebert's resoundingly positive review of your site in the eminently more innocent Internet Stone Age is pretty much what propelled you into the MRQE and RottenTomatoes firmament in the first place, I would have thought that if anyone would plunk down a few dollars a month for Ebert's reviews--should such a hypothetical scenario pan out--it would be you.

At any rate, thanks as always for what you do. You're one of the most compelling writers out there, one of the few whose every word (unless you're talking about format wars and other issues I couldn't give a damn about) I consider it a treat to read.


Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:22 am
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
First of all thanks for your work, I've being choosing the movies to watch with JB reviews for about 15 yeas now (or maybe a little less). Even today ("up in the air").

I wonder if you've seen the NYT iPad app demo....I was wondering if with such devices and ad-hoc applications the editorial industry could invent a new way to present content, a way that one would be willing to pay as it gives "more" than a website.

ps: why are JB reviews no longer part of IMDB "external review" sections?


Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:15 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
SFB wrote:
I think one of the problems is that when I'm in the mood to buy a book at Amazon, I rarely do so while at a site, its more that I go to my computer to go to Amazon to get a book. I wish I'd remember 'hey I want to buy something online, I'll go to REelViews and hope an Amazon link pops up.' But I never do.


There's a permanent generic amazon.com link on all pages of the site. It's in the ad column at the bottom. So if you want to buy through the site, you don't have to do a lot of hunting to find the link.


Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:16 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
ed_metal_head wrote:
sheryl wrote:
I don't mind paying to access the NYT website but only if they publish more lengthy investigative pieces or feature articles/commentaries (like the recent articles about the e.coli in frozen beef patties, the malfunctions of radiotherapy machines, and ok even that article about James Patterson - it was entertaining). This is the reason I'm willing to pay money for a subscription to The Atlantic or The New Yorker. I wouldn't pay just for the news because you can get those for free at other websites like CNN, ABCNews, NBCNews, Yahoo, etc. Do I enjoy reading the columnists? Yes, but not enough to pay money for it.


Sheryl, would you pay money to subscribe to Reelviews?


If I charged her a subscription fee, I'd find out how comfortable my hammock on the back deck is for sleeping purposes. :)


Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:20 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
brettrobbins wrote:
"ReelViews will never be a pay site. If the ads prove to be insufficient to support it, the site will close down."

I don't get it. I've been reading your reviews and commentary more or less regularly since the late nineties and always assumed your reviewing was more a labor of love than a means to the end of eventual profitability, as it is with so many others, especially those who don't love what they do. To hear that if this advertising thing doesn't work out you're simply going to shut down your site is more than a bit disillusioning for me, tantamount to an admission that your primary reason for doing what you do is money.


I guess you didn't see the previous post, where I wrote the following:

As for shutting down ReelViews, I didn't mean that to sound as if it's a likelihood. It is a labor of love (most of the time) but it's also an incredible time-sink. With a baby on the way, some of the time that goes into ReelViews will have to be directed elsewhere. So there will be fewer theatrical reviews going forward, at least in the near future. (Many will already note the absence of reviews of LEGION, THE TOOTH FAIRY, etc.) My goal is to post four new things per week - a combination of new reviews, video reviews, and ReelThoughts.


Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:23 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
ShrunkenHead wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
Many will already note the absence of reviews of LEGION, THE TOOTH FAIRY, etc.


I don't think many of us will begrudge you for skipping those. :D


Damn straight!!!


Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:58 pm
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