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NY Times Kills Own FB Group Because It Was Too Successful

Here are Three Easy Tips the Paper Should Try Before Crying Over Spilt Milk

It’s my opinion that newspapers secretly hate social media because they cannot control it the way they can fiddle with the paper. Prove me wrong.

Previous to the Internet, if you wanted to raise your fist at the local rag you had to write a letter, mail it in, and hope that the Opinion Editor published it. The odds were not in your favor.

Not only were hundreds of people writing letters, but the paper only dedicated a tiny portion of its precious newsprint to highlight what the madding crowds wished to discuss.

Once the web showed up at the end of the last century, newspapers wet their pants in fear. They reluctantly allowed for comments at the bottom of each story but quickly removed that option because their thin skinned writers and editors were unaccustomed to being told YOU SUCK in a variety of ways.

Today it’s rare to see any way to comment on a newspaper post. Which is a shame, because sometimes, the piece does, indeed, suck in a variety of ways.

Enter the failing New York Times which has had a decidedly unhealthy relationship with social media and the way its staffers utilize it.

But today we are learning that the Gray Lady is killing its hugely successful Cooking group on Facebook because it has grown out of control.

In any other world, if you made something that attracted over 77k engaged users that would be a good thing. People would hug. Champagne bottles would get popped. A few people might even get raises.

Not so for the paper of record.

Because the Times, one of the few media outlets who has become profitable through its digital ventures, refuses to add enough moderators or OMG a new, paid staffer, to oversee the group, it’s taking it around back and shooting it in the head.

In the olden times if, say, a morning edition was so successful that they sold out of newspapers, would they make more newspapers… or decide to end the publication of that edition entirely?

But because this is the modern era and because this newspaper cannot help but get in the way of itself, and because newspapers become exceedingly uneasy when their audience becomes the star, the NYT is going to do the absolute worst thing.

Which is, of course nuts.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Give 20 moderators free NYT subscriptions in exchange for moderating the group. Throughout the year give them t-shirts, mugs, sweatshirts, whatever. Fuckit, let a few of them write a column once in a while for the website. You’re telling me that out of 77,000 people, zero of them are capable of delivering 20 inches of content?

2. Create rules in your Facebook Group that might hurt some people’s freedom but boo hoo. Such rules might include “no politics” or “no insulting one another.” Will you be accused of censorship sometimes? Sure. But that’s a lot better than being called a cowardly quitter who hates its audience and is unwilling to embrace modern forms of communication.

Here’s the 10 rules we have in our Howard Stern Group that has 19,000 members:

3. Stop this insanity of always having to feel in control of everything! Your caterpillar turned into a butterfly and then that butterfly morphed into a fire-breathing dragon. GOOD. Ride that SOB, Queen! Don’t slice its neck because you lost your nerve.

I swear I love newspapers so much even though they continually do everything they can to make us hate them.

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Tony Pierce

Tony Pierce

host of the most ambitious podcast in history