New York Times To Charge For Online Access Beginning January 2011

Starting in January 2011, you will have to pay to read an article on the New Times website:

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — New York Times Co. will begin charging for online access to its articles early next year, said Bill Keller, the newspaper’s executive editor, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Keller broke the news at a Foreign Press Association dinner late Thursday, the newspaper reported.

The fees will go into effect in January. The company had laid out a user-pay strategy earlier this year, but the exact timing had been an open question.

The Times tried something like this several years ago, of course, with Times Select, but quickly discovered that people weren’t all that interested in paying extra for the “privilege” of reading Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd. So, now, they want to put the whole site behind a pay wall.

It’s still unclear how this will work, or how much the Times is contemplating charging for a subscription, or access to an individual article. However, I can’t see how this will have any result other than a decline in overall traffic. Rather than paying to access NYTimes.com, it be much easier for people to just go to one of the many other news outlets that aren’t charging.

Online news providers obviously need to find a way to make money at what they’re doing, but I don’t see the subscription model as the answer to their problems.

FILED UNDER: Media, Science & Technology
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Keith Koffler says:

    The New York Times is one of the few newspapers with lots of truly valuable reporting that can’t be found elsewhere. But I agree, there is so much good info out there that people just won’t accept getting their monthly bill from the NY Times unless they live in the New York area and won’t read the tabloids. This won’t work.

  2. Herb says:

    I’m not against paying the NYT, but I don’t need yet another login and password to remember. If they want to charge people for content, they should shutdown their website and migrate to a completely proprietary system they can control. (Give Steve Jobs a call. He’ll have some ideas, I’m sure.)

    Abandon the world wide web? Nah. But their website could point to ways to buy their newspaper rather than being an electronic version of it.

  3. Brett says:

    The NYT going to a paywall system is sort of annoying, but not that troublesome. My guess is that you’ll probably be able to get around the paywall pretty easily by simply typing the title of the article into Google’s search, then clicking on the link to it when it comes up as a search result. It works every time with regards to the Wall Street Journal paywall, and most of the time for the Financial Times paywall.

    Even so, I’ll still probably read it less, and do more reading on Reuters and the BBC News site (I already read the BBC News site first when I’m checking the news on-line).

  4. anjin-san says:

    To the NYT… Bon Chance & Au Revior…

  5. Dirty says:

    I wonder if paying for content might eventually lead to better journalism. With the availability of blogs, and thus intelligent people to explain current events or criticize the government or otherwise add some sort of added perspective or expertise, one of newspapers’ last advantages may be having the resources to send journalists on more lengthy investigative assignments. If that isn’t the case then I can’t imagine people paying for more than one subscription in a world where all content is pay-only, and that seems like it would shrink reader bases even further.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think this is necessary, and I expect the WaPo and others to follow suit.

    Writers/reporters need to be paid. The free interent is utopian fantasy.

  7. Michael,

    I agree and said as much in the post.

    I just don’t know that putting all your content behind a paywall is the way to do it.

  8. Given their stand on other issues, probably a federal law that make it a copyright violation for non-professional journalists to discuss the news online.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Doug:

    I don’t know either.

    I think the issue is one of how to pay not whether. It’s interesting that phone apps instantly crossed the barrier from free to paid. The market quickly set a maximum price of about 10 bucks and typical price of 4 bucks and then free ones as well. Basically by putting something on a different platform — phone rather than computer — they overcame the resistance to paying for certain things.

    It needs to be as easy as a yearly app purchase and renewal, or an automatic micropayment as you navigate between sites. But all of that is way above my tech pay grade.

  10. Michael says:

    I don’t think the NY Times management quite understands what their product is. People don’t pay for NY Times articles, they pay for information. If people think they get more information from a NYT subscription, they’ll gladly pay for it.

    But every attempt by a newspaper to charge for online content has been centered around the idea of making the information freely available, and charging for the content. By this I mean they make the headline and teaser available for free, for syndication and search indexing, then try to charge you for the rest of the article.

    Well if I already know that an Icelandic volcano is causing havoc with European air travel, I have most of the information that is in the article already, and I know which free sources can give me additional detail on the topic.

    If the Times continues to make their headlines and teasers available for free, this will fail like all the others. Instead, I’d like to see them charge a small fee for access to a pre-publication RSS feed. James, how much would you pay to know what will be on the Times’ website tomorrow, so that you could write your commentary about it in advance and have it ready to post on your site when it hits theirs?