TagNew York Times

Running the numbers: the best case scenario for newspapers on the iPad

New York Times iPad app

I’ll be playing catchup on a few links today. First up:

With newspapers like The San Francisco Chronicle losing $1M per week, it’s going to take a hell of a lot to more than the iPad to save the industry. In what I consider a best case (and far fetched) scenario, 7% of iPad owners have downloaded The New York Times’ paid app by the end of 2011; the NYT is generating $200k/month in advertising revenues from the platform; and they are able to charge $15/month/user for subscription fees. In this case, NYT is still only generating approximately $20M in net revenues. This would be fantastic for any new venture launching a news-based app; but does little for a company that has around $2.34bn in annual expenses (and approximately $600M associated with print operations). As the NYT acknowledges in their annual report, “significant portions of our expenses are fixed costs that neither increase nor decrease proportionately with revenues.” In other words, they’re not going away anytime soon. And a $20M bump in net revenues is going to mean little to nothing.

This is, of course, what I would consider the best case scenario. It is far more likely that the NYT will be lucky to see 1% of iPad owners download the app for a $15 subscription fee—and, this figure will undoubtedly drop dramatically if they charge more than $15/month. If they are lucky enough to generate $200K in incremental (rather than cannibalized) advertising revenues, they might see an increase to net of $3.4M by the end of 2011. Not a world changer.


The New York Times is tweeted at least every 4 seconds

NY Times tweets per minute

The New York Times is a customer of the bit.ly Pro service. That means NYT-shortened links are assigned under the nyti.ms domain — and this behavior holds true for anybody shortening a link to NYTimes.com. Now, it is also true that bit.ly is not the only URL-shortening service out there, but it remains the predominant shortener. At the very worst, my choice to limit this to bit.ly means I’m underestimating and thus erring a bit on the conservative side (although I do not know how to measure how big of a margin of error that is).

New York Times: How Often Is The Times Tweeted?

Anti-gay Boy Scouts leader arrested for molesting boys

A scout leader who once sued the City of Berkeley for challenging a national Boy Scout ban on members who are gay or atheist has been arrested on felony charges that for at least five years he sexually abused young males in the troops he led.


Mr. Evans sued the city in his role as a leader of the Sea Scouts, an affiliate program of the Boy Scouts. The city, after providing free berthing for a Sea Scouts boat for 60 years, said in 1998 that a Boy Scout policy barring gay scouts and atheists violated Berkeley’s rules against discrimination. The city said the Scouts would have to leave the berth or pay $500 a month rent.

Mr. Evans sued for discrimination and for violating the Scouts’ First Amendment rights. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Berkeley.

Full Story: New York Times.

(via Wonkette).

Gospel of Judas translation by National Geographic may be incorrect

AMID much publicity last year, the National Geographic Society announced that a lost 3rd-century religious text had been found, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The shocker: Judas didn’t betray Jesus. Instead, Jesus asked Judas, his most trusted and beloved disciple, to hand him over to be killed. Judas’s reward? Ascent to heaven and exaltation above the other disciples.

It was a great story. Unfortunately, after re-translating the society’s transcription of the Coptic text, I have found that the actual meaning is vastly different. While National Geographic’s translation supported the provocative interpretation of Judas as a hero, a more careful reading makes clear that Judas is not only no hero, he is a demon.


That said, I think the big problem is that National Geographic wanted an exclusive. So it required its scholars to sign nondisclosure statements, to not discuss the text with other experts before publication. The best scholarship is done when life-sized photos of each page of a new manuscript are published before a translation, allowing experts worldwide to share information as they independently work through the text.

Full Story: New York Times.

(via Hit and Run).

New York Times: Save the Gnostics

Like their ancestors, contemporary Mandeans were able to survive as a community because of the delicate balance achieved among Iraq’s many peoples over centuries of cohabitation. But our reckless prosecution of the war destroyed this balance, and the Mandeans, whose pacifist religion prohibits them from carrying weapons even for self-defense, found themselves victims of kidnappings, extortion, rapes, beatings, murders and forced conversions carried out by radical Islamic groups and common criminals.

When American forces invaded in 2003, there were probably 60,000 Mandeans in Iraq; today, fewer than 5,000 remain. Like millions of other Iraqis, those who managed to escape have become refugees, primarily in Syria and Jordan, with smaller numbers in Australia, Indonesia, Sweden and Yemen.

Unlike Christian and Muslim refugees, the Mandeans do not belong to a larger religious community that can provide them with protection and aid. Fundamentally alone in the world, the Mandeans are even more vulnerable and fewer than the Yazidis, another Iraqi minority that has suffered tremendously, since the latter have their own villages in the generally safer north, while the Mandeans are scattered in pockets around the south. They are the only minority group in Iraq without a safe enclave.

Full Story: New York Times.

?Little People? of Indonesia Seem to Be Distinct Tribe

In the continuing debate over the origin of the extinct ‘little people’ of Indonesia, a team of scientists says it has found evidence in three wrist bones that these people were members of a distinct species rather than humans with a physical disorder.

The researchers describe the new findings in a report to be published Friday in the journal Science. Critics disputed the research, saying it did not present clear evidence for the existence of a separate species, known as Homo floresiensis.

Full Story: New York Times.

Magic of Consciousness symposium


A story about the annual meeting of Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, which included a special segment on stage magic:

Secretive as they are about specifics, the magicians were as eager as the scientists when it came to discussing the cognitive illusions that masquerade as magic: disguising one action as another, implying data that isn’t there, taking advantage of how the brain fills in gaps – making assumptions, as The Amazing Randi put it, and mistaking them for facts.

Sounding more like a professor than a comedian and magician, Teller described how a good conjuror exploits the human compulsion to find patterns, and to impose them when they aren’t really there.

‘In real life if you see something done again and again, you study it and you gradually pick up a pattern,’ he said as he walked onstage holding a brass bucket in his left hand. ‘If you do that with a magician, it’s sometimes a big mistake.’


He left us with his definition of magic: ‘The theatrical linking of a cause with an effect that has no basis in physical reality, but that – in our hearts – ought to.’

Full Story: New York Times.

Not Buying It – NYT on freeganism and dumpster diving

Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants.

They dress in castoff clothes and furnish their homes with items found on the street; at freecycle.org, where users post unwanted items; and at so-called freemeets, flea markets where no money is exchanged. Some claim to hold themselves to rigorous standards. ‘If a person chooses to live an ethical lifestyle it’s not enough to be vegan, they need to absent themselves from capitalism,’ said Adam Weissman, 29, who started freegan.info four years ago and is the movement’s de facto spokesman.

Full Story: New York Times.

(via Hit and Run)

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