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The New York Times is looking to raise subscription prices

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The New York Times has been on a subscription growth tear, hitting 4.3 million print and digital subscriptions by the end of 2018. Based on those results, it’s looking to increase the price this year and set a goal of exceeding 10 million subscriptions by 2025.

Read more: Vox Media is asking people to help cover the high cost of making videos with a $4.99-a-month membership program

With all the widespread layoffs in media lately, the question looms of how online news can be financially viable. It’s tempting to think that the success of the Times means success for the other publishers that are turning to paywalls to complement their advertising business, like Condé Nast, New York Media, and The Atlantic.

But a rising Times doesn’t necessarily lift all boats. While the strong news cycle drives reader interest and willingness to pay for news, there’s a finite number of subscriptions people will pay for. Only 8% of people in the US pay for an ongoing news subscription, according to the Reuters Institute’s 2017 report, Paying for News.

The institute’s 2019 report, “Journalism, Media, Technology Trends and Predictions 2019,” warns that there may be pushback from consumers as they encounter more paywalls on sites.

The Times plans to hire more journalists

The Times has a number of things going for it that other publications don’t. Advertising as well as subscription growth enabled it to add 120 journalists last year for a total of 1,600, the biggest in Times history, EVP and COO Meredith Levien said. She said the paper would add more journalists this year, without committing to a number. When it comes to the breadth of reporting in the Times, she said, “I’m not sure we have a peer.”

“As we get better at the product, we’re also making it more valuable,” Levien told Business Insider. “I don’t think there are a lot of places in news where you can say that.”

Meanwhile, many other publishers have been laying off rather than adding journalists.

The Times also can afford to spend a lot to improve on and grow its products, which helps sell subscriptions. It’s planning to make improvements to its app. It recently rolled out a Cooking subscription product and is planning to introduce more subscription-based puzzles, a parenting product, and other utility-based products. One third of new subscriptions are coming from crossword puzzles and Cooking.

The Times also has a big marketing budget it can use to attract subscribers and market its brand. It spent $48.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from $32.6 million in the year-ago period.

It’s especially hard for general news publications to differentiate themselves enough to attract subscriptions, but The Times’ journalistic distinction and ongoing improvements have helped it win subscribers.

The paper was promoting a $1-per-week special, half off the regular price, for six months. But Levien said people readily pay full price after the introductory period ends, though she wouldn’t say the retention rate. Asked about the impact of competitors cutting their prices, she said the Times is fundamentally different and “worth paying more for.”

“We’ve had a number of people come in at 50% off who we had to step up to full price, and that went really well,” she said. “We’re getting better at how we onboard you and interact with you in the first 90 days. We’re still not as good as the best subscription companies out there, but we’re a lot better than we were, and that gives us confidence we should be able to retain at whatever offer we get people in at.”

In fact, the Times is also thinking more about how to get at high-end subscribers, after testing discounts with price-sensitive people in mind.

“We’re putting lot of thought into how to get at the high end of the demand curve,” she said. “We’ll test higher prices. We’ll put out more product. We keep putting more value in the paper.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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