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TheStreet Open House

Times' Talking Heads Just Didn't Cut It

We're talking a few cents a column. Less than a stick of gum.

It isn't a lot.

But still it's finding few takers.

The numbers haven't improved much since I first discussed them in the Boston Herald last year.

(That column, incidentally, earned me a feeble online hit job from the house journal of the newspaper establishment, the Columbia Journalism Review. It will be interesting to see what it says if TimesSelect closes.)

There's an old journalism adage that "facts are sacred, but opinion is free." As the Times shows, in the age of the Internet, it seems to be truer than ever. The columnists have to compete with an army of bloggers, from the Huffington Post and Daily Kos on down, who give away their commentary and opinion for nothing.

Meanwhile, anyone who writes online learns very quickly that the public wants facts and hard news, not just jawboning about what the secretary of state should say to the president of Iran.

An example: This column, which smacks of an essay, will probably get a tiny fraction of the Web traffic that I'll get next time I file a straight news report on a hedge fund getting into trouble.

Maybe Sulzberger should try giving away Maureen Dowd for free, and charging for hard news. Now that would be interesting.

In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Brett Arends doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.

Arends takes a critical look inside mutual funds and the personal finance industry in a twice-weekly column that ranges from investment advice for the general reader to the industry's latest scoop. Prior to joining TheStreet.com in 2006, he worked for more than two years at the Boston Herald, where he revived the paper's well-known 'On State Street' finance column and was part of a team that won two SABEW awards in 2005. He had previously written for the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail newspapers in London, the magazine Private Eye, and for Global Agenda, the official magazine of the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland. Arends has also written a book on sports 'futures' betting.

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