Thursday, January 21, 2010

New York Ka-ching

The New York Times has announced that, starting one year from now, "some frequent readers" of its online newspaper will be charged for the privilege. Occasional visitors, supposedly, won't be affected, although I am guessing I'll be counted in the former category.

From the NYT:
Starting in January 2011, a visitor to will be allowed to view a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the print newspaper, even those who subscribe only to the Sunday paper, will receive full access to the site without any additional charge.

Executives of The New York Times Company said they wanted to create a system that would have little effect on the millions of occasional visitors to the site, while trying to cash in on the loyalty of more devoted readers. But fundamental features of the plan have not yet been decided, including how much the paper will charge for online subscriptions or how many articles a reader will be allowed to see without paying.

“This announcement allows us to begin the thought process that’s going to answer so many of the questions that we all care about,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the Times Company chairman and publisher of the newspaper, said in an interview. “We can’t get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right.”

For years, publishers banked on a digital future supported entirely by advertising, dismissing online fees as little more than a formula for shrinking their audiences and ad revenue. But two years of plummeting advertising has many of them weighing anew whether they might collect more money from readers than they would lose from advertisers.
Anyone who frequents my site knows that the Gray Lady is a major source of links, not just for the Daily Kor and Loose Change, but for other pieces as well, and I don't know if I'd be able to sustain that.

Some might call foul on my disloyal sentiment, saying maybe it's about time I stop expecting a free lunch, but I do my part to click on ads of interest on the website, and I myself produce content for which no one is charged — a kind of paying it forward, I guess — not to mention that I am guiding thousands of people back to the NYT.

Anyway, the New York Times article which announces this new policy can be found here. Read it now while it's still free.

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