Monday Edition 1/18/10

THE OTHER SHOE: It’s about to drop. NY Magazine reports that the NY Times is on the verge of announcing a pay-to-play plan for its Website. This may be the test that counts. If the Times — with what is unquestionably the best MSM-run Website — can’t convince readers to pay, there’s little chance anyone else’s plan — even Rupert Murdoch’s — will work. Meanwhile, the Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass. became the first Murdoch daily to erect a pay wall.

TIMES-MEXICAN CONNECTION: The NY Times’ biggest shareholder, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, is pushing the Times toward pay-wall erection, the NY Post reports. Slim told CNBC on Friday that paid content “will be successful at the end of the day.”

MURDOCH-SAUDI CONNECTION: Murdoch’s News Corp is reported by AP to be tightening its relationship with its biggest shareholder — a member of the Saudi royal family.

E&P RETURNS: The Website is back online now, a print edition is due in February. The new owner, who took over last Thursday, also publishes FishRap magazine (this is not a joke!). He dumped editor Greg Mitchell and senior reporter Joe Strupp, saying he wants to focus more on industry business and technology and less on newsrooms, according to a NY Times report. Didn’t we all finally acknowledge that newsrooms, business and technology were very much interrelated, that a swing-door fence — if anything — had replaced the old Chinese wall. ALSO: Mitchell and Strupp have begun publishing E&P In Exile, and Mitchell crowed that “as the ‘new’ E&P slept over the weekend, we’ve posted 15 stories and items.”

LOTS OF CONTENT, LITTLE DEPTH: The internet’s limitless space is not being filled well, journalistically, and don’t expect improvement soon. Friday’s “Journalism After Print” panel included Ken Doctor’s assessment, “It isn’t journalism … it’s data.” InternetNews.com reports that “Doctor estimates there were a million fewer stories reported this past year than in 2007. While a million’s a big number, panelist Mike Masnick said wider availability of professionally reported stories is simply “an artifact of history.”

NEWSPAPER WAR IN ISRAEL: Two ailing dailies —  Haaretz and Maariv — are at each other’s throat, with Haaretz running to the Israel Securities Authorities with accusations of slander and bias. All the dailies, including biggie Yediot Achronot, are taking a hit because the freebee Israel Hayom has grabbed 27 percent of the market, according to Newspaper Innovation. Now there’s action in the Knesset to ban foreign ownership of newspapers (Israel Today is owned by American Sheldon Adelson). The Forward has a further report.

MIAMI HERALD’S HAITIAN COVERAGE: An editor’s report. Posted Saturday.

HAITIAN TIMES: The Brooklyn-based weekly published by Garry Pierre-Pierre is doing what it can on its shoestring budget to serve its community in crisis. Garry has gone to Haiti to report, and help (see Sunday’s post for how you can help too). Click here and here for his latest dispatches.

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