Why The NYT buying The Wirecutter is such a big deal

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/25/why-the-nyt-buying-the-wirecut.html

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These sites are usually the first I check when researching a purchase. I don’t always agree with them on what attributes of a piece of tech (or non-tech) is most important, but they almost always discuss the attributes I find more important. So, yeah, the trust thing is certainly there for me… let’s just hope the NYT doesn’t ruin a good thing…


It’s basically consumer reports for cheapskates.

I use it whenever I care enough about an item to want to buy something good, without in vesting the time to make sure it’s the best, for example cheap earbuds.


Well godamn he’s got it made, doesn’t he? How much of that $30M will he be keeping?


Am I the only one slightly concerned that NYT just purchased a gear review site? Anyone open up an issue of wired or backpacker lately?


But now it might be placed behind a paywall, too?


The content is well-written, well-researched and useful. It’s also a shining example of meta-reviews done right amidst a deluge of shit: machine generated aggregators, highly suspect SEO tactics and such misinformation. Good for them.


I always thought that Wirecutter was just some guy’s blog. I ran across it years ago, probably here. I have bought a few things recommended by the site–always with good results. I’ll be less likely to use it now that it is owned by a big corporation.


Somehow Wirecutter has been in my blind spot until now. Just used them to buy a travel backpack. Well, I haven’t clicked buy yet but I will.


The times is a bit different than your typical “big corporation”. Their holdings are pretty limited to newspapers and media. And not to many years back they dropped most of their broadcast and TV stuff. And just as an example when they sold their radio stations they sold some to PBS. If you look at their recent acquisitions you’ve got The Washington Post and The Wirecutter. And they apparently invested in Atlas Obscura a few years back. In terms of who owns it? Its pretty closely held. Publicly traded but apparently its pretty damned closely held, with the vast majority of ownership still sitting with the family that’s owned it since the 1890’s. And the top public stock holder earned that spot with a mere 17% share of the publicly traded portion of stock.

Point being that the NY Times Company isn’t what we’d typically label as “corporate media” or a “corporation”. It is a not a huge, multinational, vertically integrated business entity with its hands in a dozen loosely connected businesses. Its not GE owning NBC Universal. Its not a Cable Company buying up half the channels it carries. And its not a News Corp style behemoth collecting up the trashier end of the entertainment news business world wide. Its small (if valuable), closely held business with a pretty narrow focus on publishing the paper of record for the US. What problems they have are seldom down to “corporate interference”. And frankly there aren’t many organizations capable of buying your site out that you’d rather be bought out by.

ETA: Its just occurred to me Bezos owns the Post. I seem to have run some earlier News about the Times acquiring something from their old parent company together. So we’ll replace that with the fact that The Times used to Run FiveThirtyEight. Though they lost that one to ESPN a few years back.


David Pogue has competition!


I feel I must a be bad consumer, cuz I never heard about these sites before the Times purchased them. So I really don’t get why it’s such a big deal.

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It sounds like the reviews are consistently genuine and well thought out unlike most reviews these days that are assembled by overworked bots. Like I mentioned, after reading about the sale of the site I went there and read a review on travel bags as after my recent trip I wanted to ditch the suitcase. The reviewer addressed my questions plus brought up things I hadn’t considered. I’m pretty sure I will get the bag recommended but want to go try one on for fit locally first.

I’ve set my sights on moving to another country and living simply so since then I have been merrily bad at consuming and aggressively selling and donating away what I do have. It’s freeing. Cheers to the bad consumers!


I eventually gave away my “Gum Action” issues to the library book sale, but I’ll not part with “Chewers Illustrated” until my kids force me into a managed care facility.

It still doesn’t have a comics page.

Great. Now I won’t be able to trust their impartiality.

Ordinarily I’d agree with you. But, man, have you seen the state of newspaper comic strips these days?

Is Mary Worth still running?

I’m happy.

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As some one who researches and comparison shops nearly everything. Including stupid shit like socks. No matter how in depth or comprehensive you get. There is seldom a time where Wirecutter/Sweethome’s picks aren’t going be good. They may not be a clear no arguments “best”. But I’ve never see them point to something that didn’t sit near the top consensus wise. Maybe it’ll be number 2 or 3 on the other guys list, maybe it won’t be the best value per dollar (though they make specific recommendations for that), maybe it will be arguable. But it won’t be a bad recommendation, and you most likely won’t get burned just doing whatever they tell you.

No matter how much time I put in on a subject or what approach I take. They tend to come up with a shockingly similar short list every time I look into something. It basically comes off like they’re doing all the hard work for you (often in the same way), but then have the resources to take the final step of acquiring all that garbage and compare it direct.


I hope the quality remains the same after the sale.