What really bugs Tom Friedman

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New York Times columnist (and would—be bringer of peace to the Middle East) Tom Friedman was caught in a friendly ambush interview following the Webby Awards ceremony last June, where he received a prize. Friedman was in a jolly mood, and let out some interesting glimpses into his mind.

Video of the encounter has been posted on You Tube and picked—up by Media Bistro. The entire three and a half minutes are well worth viewing.

He hates the Times Select restriction of op—ed opinion pieces to those who subscribe to the Times print edition or who pay $50 for the privilege of reading Dowd, Friedman, Herbert, Kristof, and company on the web. He remembers the old days before TS:

"The web was great. It was really scalable."

Hey, it was the Webbys. I cut him some slack for gratuitous jargon.

The sudden decline in scalability is exacting a painful price, however. When he goes overseas now, (he mentions "India or whatnot"), he is no longer read by the sort of people he encounters on these trips.

This clearly bothers him. He mentions being interviewed on television in Hungary, where the interviewer tells him before the cameras are turned on,

"I used to read you but I don't anymore."

Can you imagine the pain? How on earth is he supposed to shape the future of nations like Hungary, India, and Whatnot, if their media elites no longer have access to his wisdom? He can't do television interviews everywhere all the time, after all. Besides, Tim Russert needs him at home.

Still, it's good to be Friedman. He modestly notes that

"The great thing about my job is that I can go from here right now out to JFK and get on a plane and go to China, or go to India, and I don't have to ask anybody and somebody's got to pay for that."

Expense account living is great, isn't it? Even if you married into a family of billionaires who scamper to avoid taxes and keep their "fair share" minimal, it's great to have somebody else pick up the tab for those impulse trips to the far side of the globe.

Speaking of money, Friedman seems to have had some exposure to management thinking on the subject of where revenues are going to come from:

"We have to make money somehow. The traditional dead tree way of going about it doesn't provide enough to go forward....

"The meta—dilemma is this: we're trying to do is jump kinda from here to here [hand gestures], from dead trees to a pay version of online. And what I hear (and I don't know, 'cause it's really all unknown, is what you really have to do is jump from here all the way to here [hand gestures], just totally online, and build up the biggest community you can, and hope [looks upward as if to God] you can somehow monetize it. You know what I mean? And that's... the really big challenge.

"And hey, if you're the board of the New York Times and you've got fiduciary responsibilities...[inaudible comments]  it's the dilemma of the news business."

Hat tip: Lucianne Goldberg

Thomas Lifson   8 04 06

New York Times columnist (and would—be bringer of peace to the Middle East) Tom Friedman was caught in a friendly ambush interview following the Webby Awards ceremony last June, where he received a prize. Friedman was in a jolly mood, and let out some interesting glimpses into his mind.

Video of the encounter has been posted on You Tube and picked—up by Media Bistro. The entire three and a half minutes are well worth viewing.

He hates the Times Select restriction of op—ed opinion pieces to those who subscribe to the Times print edition or who pay $50 for the privilege of reading Dowd, Friedman, Herbert, Kristof, and company on the web. He remembers the old days before TS:

"The web was great. It was really scalable."

Hey, it was the Webbys. I cut him some slack for gratuitous jargon.

The sudden decline in scalability is exacting a painful price, however. When he goes overseas now, (he mentions "India or whatnot"), he is no longer read by the sort of people he encounters on these trips.

This clearly bothers him. He mentions being interviewed on television in Hungary, where the interviewer tells him before the cameras are turned on,

"I used to read you but I don't anymore."

Can you imagine the pain? How on earth is he supposed to shape the future of nations like Hungary, India, and Whatnot, if their media elites no longer have access to his wisdom? He can't do television interviews everywhere all the time, after all. Besides, Tim Russert needs him at home.

Still, it's good to be Friedman. He modestly notes that

"The great thing about my job is that I can go from here right now out to JFK and get on a plane and go to China, or go to India, and I don't have to ask anybody and somebody's got to pay for that."

Expense account living is great, isn't it? Even if you married into a family of billionaires who scamper to avoid taxes and keep their "fair share" minimal, it's great to have somebody else pick up the tab for those impulse trips to the far side of the globe.

Speaking of money, Friedman seems to have had some exposure to management thinking on the subject of where revenues are going to come from:

"We have to make money somehow. The traditional dead tree way of going about it doesn't provide enough to go forward....

"The meta—dilemma is this: we're trying to do is jump kinda from here to here [hand gestures], from dead trees to a pay version of online. And what I hear (and I don't know, 'cause it's really all unknown, is what you really have to do is jump from here all the way to here [hand gestures], just totally online, and build up the biggest community you can, and hope [looks upward as if to God] you can somehow monetize it. You know what I mean? And that's... the really big challenge.

"And hey, if you're the board of the New York Times and you've got fiduciary responsibilities...[inaudible comments]  it's the dilemma of the news business."

Hat tip: Lucianne Goldberg

Thomas Lifson   8 04 06