The Most Visited Content at The New York Times in 2013

I’ve blogged a few of the selections below, but this is what The New York Times claims were the most visited pieces of content at its site in 2013:

1. How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk:

2. Blasts at Boston Marathon Kill 3 and Injure 100:

3. 2nd Bombing Suspect Caught After Frenzied Hunt Paralyzes Boston:

4. My Medical Choice, by Angelina Jolie:

5. A Plea for Caution from Russia, by Vladimir Putin:

6. The Scientific 7-Minute Workout:

7. Site of the Explosions at the Boston Marathon:

8. Invisible Child:

9. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food:

10. Cardinals Pick Bergoglio, Who Will Be Pope Francis:


(via @nytimes FB page)

New York Times Staffers Read Every Last Word of Magazines

I am enjoying this series titled “Every Last Word” in The New York Times where staffers are reading different magazines from cover to cover. Here’s the summary from the series’ beginning:

Edith Zimmerman learned that if you have something sexy or otherwise interesting to whisper, deliver it into the recipient’s left ear in Cosmopolitan.

Hugo Lindgren discovered the cost of a Maserati in Tehran in The Economist.

Greg Veis became aware of a dude in Chile with 83 tattoos of Julia Roberts in Vice.

Sheila Glaser learned what it means to be “young blood” in the art world in New York.

Adam Sternbergh was schooled in the art of proper egg-cracking in Real Simple.

Ilena Silverman found out that wealth inequality in China has become so inflammatory that the country stopped releasing numbers on it in The New Yorker.

Dean Robinson learned that there is more to learn about LeBron James in Sports Illustrated.

Wm. Ferguson gained insight on Spin’s new bimonthly format since his days as a hapless intern there.

Lauren Kern learned that private equity is kinder and gentler in real life than in the movies in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Samantha Henig discovered the true origins of lemon curd in Bon Appétit.

Jon Kelly was informed that fox hunts not longer involve hunting foxes in Vogue.

Vera Titunik identified her own behavior “type” in Psychology Today.

Joel Lovell discovered the controversy behind recreating a surfer’s wipeout for a film in Surfer.

Maya Lau learned that mice can swagger in Scientific American.

Yuri Chong realized the importance of true gilt in House Beautiful.

What was the last magazine you’ve read cover to cover?

The Curious Life of R.A. Dickey

Yesterday, the New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey became the first major leaguer player in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters. But it’s his life story that is worth considering. The following nuggets are taken from Wikipedia…

On his ability to throw, when he shouldn’t be able to:

After being drafted by the Rangers, Dickey was initially offered a signing bonus of $810,000, before a Rangers team physician saw Dickey’s throwing (right) arm hanging oddly in a picture. The Rangers subsequently did further evaluation of Dickey, leading to the discovery of a missing ulnar collateral ligament of elbow joint, and reduced their offer to $75,000. Dickey has been quoted as saying “Doctors look at me and say I shouldn’t be able to turn a doorknob without feeling pain,” making his ability to pitch somewhat remarkable.

On tying the record of most wild pitches in an inning, 4:

On August 17, 2008, Dickey tied the record for most wild pitches in an inning, with 4. This came against the Minnesota Twins in the 5th inning. He joins four others including Hall of Famers Walter Johnson and Phil Niekro among others who have accomplished this feat.

On being a studious reader:

One of his favorite hobbies is reading. He keeps a stack of books in his locker at all times, including a Life of Pi by Yann Martel and a collection of works by C. S. Lewis.

If Dickey wasn’t a baseball player, he wanted to be an English professor. Finally, this is the best part, perhaps. He has named his bats for literary swords:

Dickey named his bats for literary swords–Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver (from The Hobbit) and Hrunting (from Beowulf). Dickey mixed up Orcrist and Sting when explaining the origin of the name. This led to what is known to some as the BEST NEW YORK TIMES CORRECTION ever.

Finally, on Dickey being an inspiration to others:

In November 2011, Dickey announced that he would risk his 2012 season salary ($4,250,000) to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro; he credits this aspiration to his boyhood reading of Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro. While climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, he set out to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking in India. His climb was in support of an organization called “Bombay Teen Challenge” that ministers to victims of human trafficking and their children in the heart of the redlight districts. Dickey returned from this trip in January 2012 with Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello and the Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Kevin Slowey, and together raised over $100,000.

Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow

The New York Times has an excellent infographic showcasing 32 inventions that “will change your tomorrow.” The presentation and text behind the inventions is excellent. Here are the ones that stood out in my mind:

#10: Doctor on Board.Your car is already able to call for help when an accident occurs, but within a few years, it’ll tip paramedics off to probable injuries too. E.M.T.’s would know the likelihood of internal bleeding or traumatic head injury, for example, before arriving on the scene, which would help them decide whether to move you to a Level 1 trauma center or a standard emergency room.

This one is a real surprise to me:

#16: Your Body, Your Login. A team of Dutch and Italian researchers has found that the way you move your phone to your ear while answering a call is as distinct as a fingerprint. You take it up at a speed and angle that’s almost impossible for others to replicate. Which makes it a more reliable password than anything you’d come up with yourself. 

Is a world without hangovers a good thing?

#20: A world without hangovers. Researchers at Imperial College London are closing in on a formula for a new kind of booze — synthetic alcohol, it’s called — that would forever eliminate the next morning’s headache (not to mention other problems associated with drinking). The team, led by David Nutt, a psychiatrist and former British drug czar, has identified six compounds similar to benzodiazepines — a broad class of psychoactive drugs — that won’t get you rip-roaring drunk but will definitely provide a buzz.

Fire extinguishers contain toxic chemicals, so:

#27. A new firefighter.According to the program’s manager, Dr. Matt Goodman, an electric field destabilizes the flame’s underlying structure rather than blanketing the fire to smother it. Eventually, the technology could be used to create escape routes or extinguish fires without damaging sensitive equipment nearby.

See all of the 32 inventions here. Excellent list and food for thought.

The Origin of Food Criticism

On May 18, 1962 Craig Claiborne prefaced an article he wrote with a short note: “The following is a listing of New York restaurants that are recommended on the basis of varying merits. Such a listing will be published every Friday in The New York Times.” And so, on that day, the food critic was born (or at least, the contemporary version of it). This New York Times article provides the detail of the growing trend. Claiborne’s Directory to Dining, which celebrates a 50 year anniversary this month, marks the day when the country began paying attention to restaurant reviews in the newspaper.

The column’s most easily recognized field mark, the starred ranking, made its debut on May 24, 1963, with a three-star scale. A fourth star, still the newspaper’s top grade, was placed on the top of the tree a year later. The arguments about what it all means have been going on ever since.

Most influential of all were the rules Claiborne set for himself, which became the industry ideal. He was independent of advertising, tried to dine anonymously, and before passing judgment would eat at least two meals (later three) that were paid for by The Times, not the restaurants. Claiborne’s guidelines sent a message that he wasn’t an overprivileged and overfed man about town. He was a critic with a job to do.

Claiborne’s dedication to his job, I would argue, is unrivaled to this day:

Most influential of all were the rules Claiborne set for himself, which became the industry ideal. He was independent of advertising, tried to dine anonymously, and before passing judgment would eat at least two meals (later three) that were paid for by The Times, not the restaurants. Claiborne’s guidelines sent a message that he wasn’t an overprivileged and overfed man about town. He was a critic with a job to do.

Definitely some great trivia for all the foodies out there.

How to Get a “Lives” Essay Published in The New York Times

The “Lives” essay has been running in the magazine section of The New York Times since 1996. Though The Times solicits professional writers for this content, it is open to anyone with a good story to tell. Hugo Lindgren asked the magazine’s editors for a single, succinct piece of advice in order to get a better chance of having your story published. The advice is below:

• More action, more details, less rumination. Don’t be afraid of implicitness. And the old Thom Yorke line: “Don’t get sentimental. It always ends up drivel.”

• If it reads like it would make for a Hallmark TV episode, don’t submit it.

• Meaning (or humor, or interestingness) is in specific details, not in broad statements.

• Write a piece in which something actually happens, even if it’s something small.

• Don’t try to fit your whole life into one “Lives.”

• Don’t try to tell the whole story.

• Do not end with the phrase “I realized that … ”

• Tell a small story — an evocative, particular moment.

• Better to start from something very simple that you think is interesting (an incident, a person) and expand upon it, rather than starting from a large idea that you then have to fit into an short essay. For example, start with “the day the Santa Claus in the mall asked me on a date” rather than “the state of affairs that is dating in an older age bracket.”

The rest of the advice is here. If you can’t write it, try telling it.

Vision of the Internet from 1982

An archived article at The New York Times from 1982 envisages the internet:

The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.

It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.

As a consequence, the report envisioned this kind of American home by the year 1998: ”Family life is not limited to meals, weekend outings, and oncea-year vacations. Instead of being the glue that holds things together so that family members can do all those other things they’re expected to do – like work, school, and community gatherings -the family is the unit that does those other things, and the home is the place where they get done. Like the term ‘cottage industry,’ this view might seem to reflect a previous era when family trades were passed down from generation to generation, and children apprenticed to their parents. In the ‘electronic cottage,’ however, one electronic ‘tool kit’ can support many information production trades.”

I’ve never heard of the “videotex” industry before:

The study focused on the emerging videotex industry, formed by the marriage of two older technologies, communications and computing. It estimated that 40 percent of American households will have two-way videotex service by the end of the century. By comparison, it took television 16 years to penetrate 90 percent of households from the time commercial service was begun. 

Some incredibly prescient predictions here:

The home will double as a place of employment, with men and women conducting much of their work at the computer terminal. This will affect both the architecture and location of the home. It will also blur the distinction between places of residence and places of business, with uncertain effects on zoning, travel patterns and neighborhoods.

Home-based shopping will permit consumers to control manufacturing directly, ordering exactly what they need for ”production on demand.”

Interesting to dig up archive articles like this, no?

Jose Antonio Vargas: My Life as an Undocumented Citizen

In the lastest issue of New York Times Magazine, writer Jose Antonio Vargas (who wrote the sublime piece on Mark Zuckerberg last year) bares it all and reveals the incredible story of how he arrived to America and has been living here as an illegal immigrant.

This paragraph sets the stage, and thumps the heart:

One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit. Some of my friends already had their licenses, so I figured it was time. But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of U.S. residency, she flipped it around, examining it. “This is fake,” she whispered. “Don’t come back here again.”

His approach to life is one of fear and hesitation:

On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream…But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me…

I can relate to the challenge of learning the language, English, as Vargas explains here (I used to watch Home Improvement as well):

My first challenge was the language. Though I learned English in the Philippines, I wanted to lose my accent. During high school, I spent hours at a time watching television (especially “Frasier,” “Home Improvement” and reruns of “The Golden Girls”) and movies (from “Goodfellas” to “Anne of Green Gables”), pausing the VHS to try to copy how various characters enunciated their words. At the local library, I read magazines, books and newspapers — anything to learn how to write better. Kathy Dewar, my high-school English teacher, introduced me to journalism. From the moment I wrote my first article for the student paper, I convinced myself that having my name in print — writing in English, interviewing Americans — validated my presence here.

Again and again, Vargas reiterates how difficult the deception was:

For more than a decade of getting part-time and full-time jobs, employers have rarely asked to check my original Social Security card. When they did, I showed the photocopied version, which they accepted. Over time, I also began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms. (Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident “green card” status, which would have required me to provide an alien registration number.)

This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way.

So why come forward like this? Vargas explains:

So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I’ve reached out to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure. All the people mentioned in this article gave me permission to use their names. I’ve also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story.

Good for him. I imagine a tremendous burden has been lifted. Earlier I wrote about liberation. I think Vargas feels so liberated now. Let’s hope he gets the chance to stay in America and continue doing great work in journalism. You should read his entire remarkable story, in which he reveals his progression from his work on a high school newspaper  to work at the Huffington Post and Washington Post, to where he stands today. Amazing.


Thoughts on the New York Times Paywall

Last week, the New York Times announced its paywall, after many months of deliberation and development:

Beginning March 28, visitors to will be able to read 20 articles a month without paying, a limit that company executives said was intended to draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up the vast majority of the site’s traffic.

Today, the paywall went live. If you’re not familiar with the NYT paywall, take a look at the subscriptions page, and ponder for a minute the split among the three subscription options:

  • NYTIMES.COM + SMARTPHONE APP   — $15 every four weeks
  • NYTIMES.COM + TABLET APP   — $20 every four weeks
  • ALL DIGITAL ACCESS   —  $35 every four weeks

My immediate gripe upon seeing that breakdown: why discriminate between an iPhone app and the New York Times iPad app? I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPad; is the experience going to be significantly better on the tablet than it is on the phone? I doubt it.

Secondly, why is there no stand-alone subscription to This is absolutely baffling. In fact, the whole pricing strategy gets weirder when you do the math. Let A = cost of access to Let B = cost of access to the smartphone app. Let C equal cost of access to the tablet app. We then have:

A + B = $15 (1)

A + C = $20 (2)

A + B + C = $35 (3)

Plug in equation (1) into equation (3), namely that A+B = $15, so equation (3) becomes $15+C = $35, or that C=$35-$15=$20. Then from equation 2, A + C = $20, and we see that A = $20-$20 = $0!

Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. But from reading across the Web, I think I know why the New York Times devised such a pricing strategy. If you read the subscriptions page, you’ll notice that you get full access to New York Times so long as you subscribe to (paper) home delivery. You can subscribe to the Sunday New York Times for something like $13 per four weeks, which is significantly cheaper than the $35 all-access pass for four weeks. Thus the goal of the Times: to increase paper subscriptions, but more importantly, to ensure that current subscribers renew their subscriptions.

So, today is day 1 of the unveiling of the paywall, and I’m pretty sure I’ll hit my 20-article quote in the next few days. Take a look at the number of article’s I’ve read last month, broken down by section:

This number doesn’t include the articles I’ve read via the New York Times iPad app. Do I think the digital subscription is expensive? I have to agree with Felix Salmon — the digital subscription is expensive:

The NYT has decided not to make the paywall very cheap and porous in the first instance as people get used to it. $15 for four weeks might be cheap compared to the cost of a print subscription, but $195 per year is still enough money to give readers pause and to drive them elsewhere. And similarly, 20 articles per month is lower than I would have expected at launch.

However, I disagree with Felix Salmon on one point here. The paywall won’t drive me elsewhere for the news and in-depth reporting that I consistently rely from the NYT. I believe I will be able to find the articles I want to read via blogs and social media (especially following links via Twitter). If you’ve been paying attention to this blog over the last year or so, you know that I’ve linked to dozens of New York Times articles. The paywall will NOT change my blogging behavior. However, I think the paywall will change my browsing/reading behaving while I am on How? I typically tend to browse articles by sections, and then click through anything that looks interesting enough to read. So, for instance, in an evening I may read five stories in the Business section, then proceed to the Science section and read a few articles there. With the paywall, I won’t have this ability/luxury, but I know I’ll find a way to access the articles I want to read.

I hope that more of you come visit this blog in the coming months because I’ll still be linking to New York Times frequently, and you’ll be able to access the NYT articles that I link here without having to worry about adding to your monthly 20-article total.

What are your thoughts on the New York Times paywall? Will you pay? If not, why not? How will you access NYT articles if you’re a devout reader but aren’t willing to subscribe to the digital subscription? Do you think the NYT paywall will fail?



1) The Newsonomics of The New York Times’ Pay Fence [Nieman Lab]

2) New York Times Paywall: Built for the Digital Future? [Guardian]

Links of the Day (02/05/10)

Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last few days:

(1) “Who Dat Owns ‘Who Dat’? Dat’s Us, Sez da NFL” [Wall Street Journal] – an interesting scenario is unfolding on the streets of New Orleans. The NFL is telling vendors that they can’t sell t-shirts with the words “Who Dat” printed on them, presumably because the NFL owns the trademark on the phrase. It sounds like the NFL is trying to seize as much profit as this surge by the Saints leads to Super Bowl Sunday. Is this a case of a monopoly or something else?

(2) “The State of Molecular Cuisine” [Wall Street Journal] – an interesting look into the world of molecular gastronomy.

(3) “Why Twitter Will Endure” [New York Times] – David Carr explains why Twitter is here to stay. It’s a very insightful piece which has gained more traction recently, as another columnist named George Packer wrote a column in The New Yorker opposing the use of Twitter:

The truth is, I feel like yelling Stop quite a bit these days. Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell.

What’s interesting to me is that Mr. Packer hasn’t actually created a Twitter account and discovered Twitter for himself. He’s relying on hearsay. If you’re on Twitter, what’s your opinion of its usefulness? If you aren’t on Twitter, why not?

(4) “Hi There” [The Economist] – a very interesting piece on how different cultures address and treat politeness and/or respect. Did you know that the reigning prince of Liechtenstein, Hans Adam II, is the only person in the world who can seriously be addressed as Serenity? Definitely worth reading.