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Journalists consider their profession more than a mere job. It is a vocation, a public good, a necessary ingredient to a well-functioning democracy and well-informed public. There is a reason, after all, that the highest honor in the field is the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism.

Nowhere is the above more true than at The New York Times, to an often self-parodying extent. Still, even their bitter rivals at The Wall Street Journal think that perhaps the Gray Lady ought to get a special Pulitzer in public service for its deal this week to buy the app game of the moment, Wordle.

The news brought shock and awe to the game’s loyal players, some wanting to know how a no-frills website nobody had even heard of a few months ago could possibly bank so much so soon. Many worried the game would eventually be paywalled.

Fear not, those who’ve become addicted to the game over the last three months. Not because the Times won’t try to monetize Wordle. That would be silly. Fear not, because it could have been oh so much worse.

Fans should be thankful creator Josh Wardle, a software engineer, didn’t go the Silicon Valley route. Ninety users to “millions” in three months is a growth rate that would no doubt have every venture-capital fund salivating. Ad-free website? Think of the monetization potential! Players can share their results, so it is basically a social-media platform. There is tremendous scarcity value—people will pay anything to take one shot a day. And last but not least, it was a passion project!

Good Thing VCs Didn’t Get the Last Wordle [WSJ]

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