An Open Letter From A Canadian To The New York Times, Eh?

from the happy-to-help dept

Dear New York Times,

As a Canadian, I am writing to say what an honour and a privilege it is to be chosen as one of your preliminary test subjects for the dumbest business model imaginable. We don’t get many chances to contribute up here in the untamed north, so the knowledge that we are helping to ensure “as smooth a transition as possible” for your real readers makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like a Tim Horton’s hot chocolate.

Your plan makes perfect sense. The average Canadian starts his day chopping down trees and ends it with igloo sex (which is awesome, by the way) so we don’t need something to be “smooth” and “fine-tuned” unless it’s an axe or a Chippewa concubine. So by all means use us as your whetstone before you go hacking away at the American market – we don’t mind in the slightest. New York is still basically a mythical place to us, so every article you publish is like a dispatch from Oz, and who wouldn’t want to pay for that?

Now, there are those who will tell you that your business model couldn’t be more doomed if you opened a chain of in-temple money changers, which is no doubt why you wanted to try it out on Canadians before attempting any human testing. I for one pledge to live up to the faith you have shown in us: I will ignore the nay-sayers and become a lifelong subscriber, if only to prove how much more agreeable we northerners are than whiny yanks like Felix Salmon. Felix thinks you can evaluate things with math. If Canadians believed that, we’d move our currency off the Syrup Standard. However, as your goal is to improve the product, I will dutifully point out that even to us your pricing structure makes less sense than your country’s bacon naming conventions.

So thank you New York Times for singling Canada out as the only place on the entire planet that deserves to test your unfinished product. Of course, it’s not entirely clear why it’s still unfinished, since the $40-million you spent developing it is more than the combined wealth of our entire nation ever since Celine Dion moved to Vegas, but we have faith nonetheless. I sincerely hope that, with our help, your paywall will be a big hit in the real world.

Your faithful guinea-pig,
Marcus Carab

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Comments on “An Open Letter From A Canadian To The New York Times, Eh?”

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Awesome post!


I’m with you one hundred percent even though I’m technically not Canadian. (I live just south of you. And I’ve been spelling “grey” with an “e” as long as I can remember. Oh, and I keep putting a “u” back in “humour,” which always sets off the spellcheck.)

There’s nothing in this letter that I don’t agree with. The part that don’t not agree with the most is your slam of Felix Salmon. God knows we’ve all had it up to here with his constant use of numbers and charts and whatnot to piss all over bad ideas from newspaper paywalls to the entirety of the Greek economy.

I’d stop reading him immediately in protest, but he’s won me over completely with his understated preppy look and his close resemblance to the foodie guy from “Queer Eye.” (You know, the one who’s gone on to other foodie type gigs? Like Iron Chef Whitey on Food Network?)

Anyway, kudos again for your letter and for forging a path into the paywall for the rest of us.


My letter to the NYT

I have heard that you have decided to test your new subscription model here in Canada. I thought that you might be interested in my response as a Canadian.

I used to be a reader of the New York Times. That ends today, and for as long as your subscription model continues. I also frequently linked to NYT content, as it was both available to visitors and highly reputable. However, now when I am sharing news stories I shall not use the New York Times as I cannot know that those I would be sending to your page will be able to view the content. As my intention is to share the information, I shall instead find news articles elsewhere to link to. I will naturally encourage my friends (both actual and Facebook) to do likewise.

I am sure that your experiment with this model will, like all previous such experiments, be a glorious failure that is eventually withdrawn. On that day I will return as a reader, unless I find a site I like better in the meantime. I wasn’t looking before, but I am now.


Seems everyone gets it but Murdock. Oh, best wishes in that new padded rocket sled seat. I hear it will really make you grin to bare it.

There is one thing I really wished I knew when this is all over with. That is how much readership was lost and what happened as a result of that with ad prices.

There is nothing in the NYTs that I’m interested in since I live outside the NY area.

Oh btw, did you hear that nasty rumor about there being free news on the internet?

“Seems everyone gets it but Murdock.”

Huh! I must not be part Canadian, because I don’t get the reference to Murdock. You can’t possibly be talking about the owner of News Corp, since they are making money hoof over mooseburger. That, of course, according to math geeks like Felix Salmon, is “getting it”.

Marcus – great post. Talk about an epic fail. From one of the two great world newspapers to global joke in 10 quick years.

Marcus Carabsays:

Re: Re: Felix Salmon is a yank?

Indeed. This was pointed out to me shortly after I posted my letter. One would think that, as a brit, he would have the decency to display his coat of arms from time to time so we Canadians can show him the respect commensurate to his family history. We get very confused out here on the frontier of the empire, you know, so we aren’t always up-to-date on the latest happenings nearer the throne. Hell, we only just started printing Pepys’ diary two years ago.

But also, according to It’s A Big World Out There, Dontchaknow (a copy of which sits on every good Canadian boy’s bookshelf) New York City is somewhat akin to the Sarlaac Pit, with little hope of escape. So until the Salmon is rescued or digested, I would argue that he is an honourary yank, or at least a Yank Novitiate.

Another Canadiansays:

Most of the time, Canadians have the reputation for being some of the politest people on the planet… thanks for showing the Americans that we can have a wicked sense of humour and can be as sarcastic as the best of em. Hopefully the sarcasm isn’t buried too far in maple syrupy goodness for Murdoch to notice with his head so far up his ass.

Having said that, I will point out that you forgot one stereotype… you didn’t say sorry anywhere, even if there was no real reason for it, and you didn’t really mean to.



"All The News That's Fit To Print"

Surgeon General’s Warning: reading the New York Times may be hazardous to your health; you may experience blurred vision, reality distortion, headaches, disorientation, moral exhaustion, attention deficit disorder, confusion and serious degradation of your critical faculties. Young children, pregnant women and elderly people should avoid direct contact. Articles contain subtle (or not so subtle) disinformation, propagandistic appeals and special pleading for causes and interests near and dear to the “Davos World Economic Forum” Set.

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