Ben Smith, The New York Times’ new media columnist, published his debut column last night. It was about The Times itself, and whether it’s become so large and influential that it could now be considered a monopoly.
There’s merit to the question, and it’s one that’s particularly relevant to me as the founder of a subscriber-supported digital news startup. But while The Times may have the market cornered on paid subscriptions, I don’t believe it’s becoming a monopoly. It’s made everyone aware that quality journalism is worth paying for, and it should be celebrated for figuring out a smart business model—but it’s a model that can be replicated with patient capital, a great product and strong brand identity.