Man Without Qualities

Friday, September 23, 2005

Free Krugman? II

This is a sad day for intellectual property thieves on a budget everywhere. The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archives is dark with respect to Herr Doktorprofessor's new column (although the site itself is still up)! Actually, its fine with me if TimesSelect does a better job of containing the flood of Krugmaniacaldrivel gushes from Princeton than the Industrial Canal does shielding the Ninth Ward from surging Lake Pontchartrain. But what effect is Herr Doktorprofessor's TimesSelect ghettoization having on what his former student Greg Mankiw suggested as a reason for Herr Doktorprofessor's intellectual disintegration (here or here):
Mankiw: I guess if you're a columnist, you want to be widely talked about and be the most e-mailed. It's the same thing that drives talk show hosts to become Jerry Springer.
Well, OK then! Here's something we can check. Herr Doktorprofessor once routinely ranked at the top of the Times Most E-Mailed Articles list, week after week. He has a new column out today. Here's a redacted version of what the Most E-Mailed Articles list looks like at the moment:

1. A New Deadly, Contagious Dog Flu Virus Is Detected in 7 States
6. Movie Review 'Good Night, and Good Luck': News in Black, White and Shades of Gray
9. Where's the Party? Scottsdale!
10. Oprah's Book Club to Add Contemporary Writers
11. Art Review: At the Gothic Crossroads of Prague
12. (Published September 22, 2005) Voters' Remorse on Bush By BOB HERBERT Americans are finally catching onto the utter incompetence of the Bush administration.
13. Supersize Strollers Ignite Sidewalk Drama
18. Need Answers? Ask Anybody
23. (Published September 23, 2005) Op-Ed Columnist: The Big UneasyBy PAUL KRUGMAN Hurricane Katrina did more than physical damage; it was a blow to our self-image as a nation.
24. Miles of Traffic as Texans Heed Order to Leave

This is just one snapshot, of course, and it's far too early in the game to see what effect actually charging people to read Herr Doktorprofessor's columns will have on his readership and his own thinking and writing. But on the readership front early signs are good: Within the TimesSelect dogpile, Herr Doktorprofessor is being outclassed by day-old Bob Herbert (the only other TimesSelect to make it into the top 25) by a big margin. Overall, the pack is led by a hot story on a dog virus, and Herr Doktorprofessor is being hammered by everything from "Where's the Party? Scottsdale!" to "Need Answers? Ask Anybody." The latter article notes among the online information-and-expertise crowd a certain admiration for the psychics and relationship advisers who sell their time on ..., [whose] advisers seem to ... [be] charging ... $3 to $4 a minute, and some even $7.99.

A consequence of the "Need Answers? Ask Anybody" vogue may be that on-line psychics are cleaning up. But at the moment relatively few paying TimesSelect customers seem to be looking to Herr Doktorprofessor to answer their questions (or at least e-mailing those answers). On the other hand, Herr Doktorprofessor admits that he has never been very good with predictions. So on-line psychics may have an edge on him.

UPDATE: Its 8:00 pm in Los Angeles. Herr Doktorprofessor's column has risen to number 14 on the chart. But he's still being dominated by the same stories on that dog virus, Scottsdale parties and, of course, Prague gothic style - among others. But his column is the only TimesSelect item making the top 25! He's a player!


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