New York Times to Go Behind a Paywall Next Year
The New York Times announced last week that it’s going to start charging a subscription fee for readers who want to view more than a certain number of articles, beginning in 2011. As the Times itself said, reaction ranged from enthusiastic to withering—from what I could tell, the predominant mood seemed to be withering resignation, and no one was really surprised. Everyone knew this day was coming—not just for the NTY, but for most news organizations that rely on original content and reporting. (I think The Guardian has pledged it will remain free for the foreseeable future).
From David Carr at the NYT:
dot passed on this article on the move that critiques it as an unsustainable business model:People who remain reflexively bullish on free ignore the fact that the clock is ticking on many of the legacy businesses that produce that content. The new approach is an effort to replace that ticking clock with a meter, and its success is not assured but to sit still would be dumb. It is not the job of The New York Times or any other mainstream media company to give away its content until it can no longer afford to do so. By requiring certain kinds of digital consumers to participate, The Times is ensuring it will be in business for a long time to come. It could be a smaller business, one with less reach, but it will remain an engine of news and commerce.
Flexible Or Paradoxical? Why The NY Times' Plan Is Inherently Self-Limiting
So are people ready to pay for content? For what it’s worth, I would have preferred a non-profity/foundation model—I’d be willing to donate, but I don’t want to be nickled and dimed to death for pieces I’ll never read. Or a micropayment system, a la itunes. I just think—like the music business—news orgs have waited too long to figure out a working paid model. There’s a generation out there that is just not going to pay—they will likely keep their older, more well-heeled audience, but they’re going to have a hard time getting new readers.