Nytimes.com to start charging for some site access: your thoughts on meter model?

The New York Times announces that it will begin charging frequent readers for access to NYTimes.com sometime next year. Boing Boing readers, what do you think about this experiment in a metered model? I link often to stories there, but would think twice about doing so if it meant sending readers to a paywall.


  1. I link often to stories there, but would think twice about doing so if it meant sending readers to a paywall.

    I think it’s be a disaster for just that reason.

  2. I link often to stories there, but would think twice about doing so if it meant sending readers to a paywall.

    I think it’ll be a disaster for just that reason.

  3. Oh, it’d be even better than that…

    If their plan is to charge “frequent” readers, anybody who puts up a link to NYTimes.com will be sending some people to a paywall, some right to the article, some frequent readers with dynamic IPs right to the article, some first-time readers who just inherited the last IP from the frequent reader right to the paywall, and so forth…

    Unless their execution is so good that they’ll be widely suspected of having an omniscient strong AI handling their packets, any comment thread concerning a story with an NYT link will contain more confused messages about access/lack of access/gloating about never having hit a paywall in the last 500 tries/general confusion/requests for functional web proxies/hints from the technical cool-kids about using google translate to mask your IP/etc. than it will comments about the article.

  4. I wish them luck. They have to make money to survive and advertising dollars can corrupt. But how will it play out, who’s to say? I know they tried subscription for content originally and like you said, everybody stopped linking to them, and that’s why they gave it up.

  5. How quickly we forget: NYT tried previously to require registration for ALL articles. You could get the synopsis on the front page, but as soon as you wanted to read the full article, they’d hit you with an interstitial asking for a username/password, or registration for such.

    “It’s free! (just give us all your personal info so we can sell it to every telemarketer and junkmailer in the world).”

  6. I hit a pay wall, I go elsewhere. Not that I am cheap well Yes I am but that is not the point. the point is the Business model for intertube content is still being worked out and for every pay wall there is going to be 100 that don’t

  7. I have a problem with this mostly because I already subscribe to the NYT, on the kindle, so unless one membership entitles you to the other content they might be causing problems for people who already pay. I know they used to include this with home delivery (paper edition) but somehow the kindle edition is totally off their radar I keep getting letters asking me to resubscribe.

  8. Doing this changes from an impulse buy model to a destination store model.

    For example, in the Impulse Buy Model, I will go to the mall to wander around and maybe buy things I see along the way. It doesn’t really matter what stores are in the mall as long as I’m assured that I’m likely to see something I’m interested in. But any store that isn’t conveniently located with the rest of the stores will be unlikely to get a visit.

    In the Destination Store Model, I will go to a specific Hockey Pro Shop to get hockey gear. Other stores in the area have absolutely no impact on my decision to visit that store.

    Destination stores can be off the beaten path because they don’t rely on casual traffic to keep them afloat. And in fact they are often in moderately out of the way places because the rent is lower.

    BoingBoing is a mall for me. I go to browse the wide selection of “stores”. NYT is saying they don’t want to participate in the model you are providing. Certainly, you reduce your value to me if the “stores” that are attached to your “mall” are hard to get in and out of.

  9. I think TechCrunch has the best analysis of this.

    I just think they’ve got a broken model that emerged to minimize the costs associated with the world before the internet, but isn’t able to take full advantage of modern technology. And charging more than customers are willing to pay is no way to save a failing business.

  10. A paycheck is always worth it if it’s needed.

    But from your writer viewpoint then, no, I don’t think it’s worth it. Unless you need the money.

    Personally I think this diminishes the NYT’s relevance, as well as any writer’s who is dependent on the NYT (or any other paywall crippled medium). But survival/eating always takes precedence.

  11. I think the general idea of charging users only after a certain number of articles a month (i.e. a certain number of articles a month are free) is generally smart. I would never go to a new site that had only paywalls, because I’d never get into it enough to start caring. But if I can still generally find a Times article, then it becomes my go-to news site, and I may be willing to pay to keep it up.

    That’s not to say that I’ll actually pay it. Quite probably I’ll instead get my news from elsewhere. But in terms of actually trying to make money as a news agency from online content, I think it’s probably the best way.

  12. There are few sites that I would pay for, but NYT is one of them (even though I am a poor, cheap grad student). There is journalism and information assembly that requires difficult work and serious scrutiny that can only be incentivised by salary, and there is entertainment. Since the latter is ridiculously abundant, can often be reported in one’s spare time, and adds no appreciable value to our culture, I am more than happy to pay for the former.

  13. I won’t pay for it if it’s linked to from here. If it’s a enough of a news story, I can read it somewhere else for free.

  14. It will make no difference to me. That’s because I haven’t followed a link to an NYT story for years, because I never realised that they stopped requiring login.

  15. Having previously worked at a community newspaper for over 9 years I can certainly understand the need to try and figure out a revenue stream. With newspapers in general struggling to try to come to terms with the internet and decreased readership of print editions, they are trying to figure out a business model that works. Unfortunately if everyone simply wants free news content and refuses to pay then the net result will be the closing of news outlets and further homogenizing of content.

    The big revenue source for newspapers has been advertising, cover price usually only covers the cost of printing and delivery, but for whatever reason, advertisers are not willing to spend nearly as much for online ad space as they would for print ad space.

    So, while I personally will not be paying for NYTimes content anytime soon, I certainly understand why they feel they must do it. I only hope the industry as a whole can find a solution soon. Perhaps Steve Jobs will save the industry with next week’s announcement…

  16. good for them. there have maybe been a dozen stories in the last 12 months that i needed to go to nytimes.com to read. We can talk for hours about whether news papers are dieing, but what the times does not seem to understand, is there are other news papers and other sources for hard news!

  17. They have the right to charge for their product.

    I support it if it means they’ll take away all those annoying ads off the front page.

  18. I’m disappointed. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of NY Times is that free registration (I really don’t care) gives you access to basically their entire archive. I’ll be going there much less once this metered wall goes up.

  19. I think the success of a paywall model will depend not on how many free views are allowed but on how much is charged after that. The previous model was $50/year and it failed. The price for viewing an article should feel inconsequential, say 10 cents, so that the decision to pay is an easy one. If the Times focuses on teaching casual visitors to pay something rather than making a lot of money quickly, they will have a chance at successfully implementing a new model.

    They need to remember that they aren’t merely charging for content, they are conditioning their audience to accept a new online experience.

  20. Whether this is the way to go remains to be seen, but they have to do something. Journalism, especially of the calibre offered by the New York Times, is very expensive. I wish them luck.

  21. As surmised in the related TechCrunch article, subscribers to the NYT print get free access to NYT.com, this move is probably more to do with increasing subscriptions to the print version than accruing any serious revenues view the web. If they have you on their subs list, they can generally be assured of all sorts of side deals like holiday offers, wine club deals, etc. by passing your details on. And newspapers LOVE subscriptions: ‘money in the bank’, as my old Dad used to say.

  22. This is really about the value of news from a particular source. By paying a subscription fee you are voting on the relevance of that info with your dollar. You are possibly relying only or largely on that source (why would a casual news reader, as opposed to an academic, pay a source that you only use infrequently). Is that source’s news that worthy of being the one that informs you?

    #14 seems to be saying that quality reporting only comes from those who are being paid to write it and he would be happy to get his news that way. Some of the most in depth, well thought out reporting comes from smaller outlets who offer differing viewpoints to those of the big dogs. Consider yesterday’s reporting on DemocracyNow! vs. the Times or Fox on security forces in Haiti to stem the purported looting and violence. Both the Times and Fox mention looting, but aside from some folks who looted a grocery store and handed out the food/drinks to the people (as reported by the Times), I didn’t see any specific stories on specific violence or looting. (I will say that I wasn’t combing the data for that and could have missed something). DN! reported that people have been working in groups to help themselves and that they are leery of troops coming to them, particularly at night. They reported seeing no violence. That alternate reporting is invaluable to the skeptic who compiles information to come to his own conclusions.

    I would be disappointed to see the Times require payment (though #23’s idea is worth some thought), as they do offer quality stories, but I do give freely to DN!

  23. I don’t really like NYT that much. Nowadays the only solid reporting and analysis to be had is from periodicals. NYT has its biases, and cloaks them well: passive voice, subject manipulation, etc.

    Now I’m not saying the NYT sucks and nobody should ever read it. Hell, they’re trying, which is more than can be said for a lot of papers these days. I’m just saying that I would have difficulty justifying a subscription.

    I should add that views and editorial slants that conflict with my own are not actually determining factors for whether or not I consume news from a particular source. I do pay for The Economist, for example- despite its ridiculous neoliberal bent. Granted, they’re not a daily, but beyond the headlines, I don’t consume news daily- I’ve got shit to do*.

    Also, I find that while the NYT is ahead of the game in some respects, particularly international affairs- it’s still indefensibly ethnocentric.

    Now just because I wouldn’t pay for it, it doesn’t mean that the NYT shouldn’t try to find some way to fund its operation. Does this strategy represent a suitable compromise between freevertising and subscription-based models? Time will tell. I predict the determining factor here is price. I predict a price of $9.99 monthly or bimonthly would be optimal- just a guess of what people are willing to pay. One of the biggest problems with a digital subscription for me is that I can’t really browse through the paper the way I would like. I don’t want to see links to what’s currently popular- I want to skim the broadsheet for headlines that catch my eye.

    *Not to imply that newshounds are loafers, I just utilize my free time differently.

  24. Gizmodo thinks this has to do with the announcement of a new Apple product next week.

    Apple and NYT have long been in cahoots, even with Steve Jobs using the NYT app during one of his keynotes.

    David Pogue always gets one of the first reviews out of Apple products.

    The rumour-mill is buzzing hard that this is going to be a tablet device, possibly accessing a new content store (much like the app store). Even if it only is just the App store, how many people would get a tablet to do casual things like morning news, watch some casual youtube/hulu, catch up on blogs, etc…

    If the NYT thinks this is something that will take off (along with the likes of the Kindle), then going a paid route is definitely a legitimate way of going.

  25. I already subscribe to their Times Reader product so I can read the NYTimes on my netbook during my train commute in the morning when I’m offline. The Times Reader product is excellent in that I get the contents of the complete newspaper and magazine to download and read offline with nice, legible formatting and good navigation.

    Access to the Times Reader feed is free with any home delivery subscription, the cheapest of which is to subscribe to their Book Review for $91/year, which comes out to 25 cents per day. Personally, for the amount of information and enjoyment the NYTimes provides me, 25 cents a day seems like a steal to me. A month’s worth of the NYTimes costs me less than a sandwich at Subway fercryingoutloud!

    I’m willing to pay for content, it’s just that most newspapers or blogs haven’t been asking for my money.

  26. Love it. I’d pay now. It’s in our interest to support, if affordable, quality journalism, whatever our preferred sources.

  27. Here’s the fundamental thing: people are no longer willing to pay simply to read a particular news source. They will just go elsewhere to get their news.

    NYTimes.com, and every other newspaper, has to add something of value if they want online readers to pay.

    Thinking about all kinds of content — music, movies, books, magazines, blogs — I’m willing to pay for the following reasons (assuming I find the content desirable):

    1) if the content or equivalent content isn’t reliably available for free;
    2) if I feel strongly about supporting the creator or content provider;
    3) if paying provides me with some extra benefits.

    So for example, when I buy Cory Doctorow’s latest book even though a PDF ebook is available for free, it’s because I particularly like Cory’s work and want to show my support with my money, and because I derive advantages from having a printed, bound version of the book (it’s easier to read for long periods of time, I can read it even if I don’t have access to my computer or to electricity, it’s much nicer to give as a gift).

    When I signed up to make a monthly contribution to NPR, even though I can listen to NPR online via streaming and podcasts for free, it’s because I particularly like many shows on NPR and I know that they’re listener-supported. I feel strongly about supporting independent public radio’s news and analysis.

    When I buy a DRM-free song on iTunes, even if I could pirate it, it’s because iTunes is considerably more convenient and reliable than any illicit source these days. The ease of use is what I’m mostly paying for. (Sometimes I’ll also buy music out of a principled desire to support the artist, if they’re more indie and I’m a big fan.)

    In order to pay for a news site, even though equivalent news reporting is reliably available elsewhere with effectively no inconvenience, I would have to feel a particular loyalty and desire to support that news site, and/or get some extra benefit from paying.

    NYTimes either has to make their reporting significantly different and better from everyone else’s, or they have to give me something other than just the news for my money. I’m not sure what the extra would be. Maybe an ad-free site. Maybe access to the print version on my e-reader. I don’t know, I’m sure they can come up with something.

  28. “I link often to stories there, but would think twice about doing so if it meant sending readers to a paywall.”

    Because you benefit from being a free-rider on their journalism?

    1. Umm, if they have ads beside the story, then you are paying with flow. If there is a paywall, lots of people will just excerpt or outright copy the stories and then the newspaper doesn’t even get the flow anymore.

      The world has changed and news organizations are as well. They are just having a hard time leaving newsprint behind. Some will get there, many will not, and in the end we will all be better off.

    2. Oh come on, seriously?

      It’s about the “viscosity” of the particular medium. Cory doesn’t want to reference something that half his readers or more can’t access with relative ease. He doesn’t want to set up a blog that essentially requires his readers to subscribe to a particular news service (or fifty) just to get context for his posts- especially absent reasonable rate-systems to syndicate content based on the dynamics of the particular customer and publishing format. There is a seamlessness to the Internet currently that allows a user to “flow” more or less and collect relevant information quickly. It’s part of what makes it so gosh-darn useful. Cory doesn’t want to impede that flow by citing information he knows is sitting behind a lake of molasses.

      What part of that is so difficult to understand? (If it’s just my viscosity metaphor, I won’t blame you.)

      1. I mostly agree, but it was Xeni, not Cory. Put them side by side, you’ll notice the difference right away.

        1. Sorry Xeni, massive end-of-long-day brain drain, I was reading the ACTA post with the video before this one and was still locked into the Doctorow mindset while I read this.

          I hereby retroactively replace all Corys with Xenis in my previous post.

  29. Because you benefit from being a free-rider on their journalism?

    They get ad revenue when we link to them. How is that a free ride?

  30. I had trouble finding the link to make a comment on this post to BoingBoing. It would be nice if the interface to go from BoingBoing’s main page to the comments were standard for both the full length posts and the short-blurb posts that came with the recent re-design.

  31. I link often to stories there, but would think twice about doing so if it meant sending readers to a paywall.

    If you value the NYT’s work (and if you link, I assume you do) then why not continue linking?

    I mean, just because the NYT asks people to pay, doesn’t make its actual journalism less “good,” does it?

    Perhaps, as a courtesy, you might flag the link as “subscription may be required” or some such. The bottom line is, it leaves the decision to your readers: If they value the work, too, they can make their own decision whether or not to pay.

  32. The NYT is something that I really would not want to have to stop reading because of this. They have quality journalism and yeah they need to pay for it. But if a paywall goes up then I probably will stop reading. It’s not just the actual cost, but the fact that I have to go in and sign up and give them my various #s before I can read an article. This is the internet. If I can’t get there within two clicks, I don’t care that much and I’ll find it somewhere else. And I’m definitely not going to pay money for something that I might not like or enjoy reading (yeah, I’m a cheapass). News = disposable, and I don’t pay for disposable things. Plus, it is incredibly irritating to go back and try to find something that I’ve read and find that it’s gone behind a paywall. Am I going to have to start backing up NYT articles I want to save for rereading? Am I actually thinking about bootlegging a newspaper?!

    So tl;dr, yeah, if it’s possible I’d rather you guys try to find alternate links to NYT in the future.

  33. I actually refrain from reading NYT articles because of thier innate distain for the consumer. Which kind of sucks since because the content can be very good some times

  34. How about using your Library’s newspaper database subscription? This is what my local branch has… Proquest New York Times “OpenURL compliant for both inbound and outbound linking.” You’ve paid for the NYT already through local taxes, may as well use it :)

  35. The internet has hastened the decline of the American middle class. Countless skilled high wage jobs that support countless other jobs that support entire communities have vanished because we are all such cheap bastards…especially when it comes to our precious internet. I’d gladly pay.

  36. Flasputnik: I agree.

    It is pretty clear that global warming does not cause us harm *tomorrow*. But many of us on this site (myself included) think we should start doing something about it now – or a long time ago – so the effect isn’t worse.

    There may be other journalism right now. But the kind of journalism that the Times provides may actually die out if we don’t support it, to the point where we will be left only with reactionaries, corporate sponsored fluff, and some smart bloggers to suss out the truth in their free time.

    Having a newspaper of record is worthwhile. People 100 years ago used to pay a much, much larger percentage of their income on news than we do today. News is valuable. Good reporting supports freedom, and while the Times stumbles regularly, they try harder than almost any other large organization to get it right.

    I’ll pay, even though I don’t read the Times on a daily basis. When I consider where I spend my money, it could go to much worse sources.

  37. In terms of linking from BB, if they give you 3 articles a month, screw ’em. If it’s 30 a month it’s still worth linking.

    From their perspective, I can understand them not wanting me to read 50 articles a day for free, but it’s in their best interest to let me read a couple of articles. If you don’t give away any samples, you end up losing more potential customers. Acting like a dick in lean economic times kills your recovery when the economy gets better.

  38. I’m not likely to pay the New York Times for anything unless them make some major changes in policy.

    Right now, the NYT is mostly useful as a bad example. Whenever I read one of their articles, it becomes a challenge to figure out which part is the lie. They are very good at it and even with very critical reading, they slip one by every so often.

    Of course it could be just incompetence, but I’m not about to pay for that either.

  39. Apple has been working with NYT to broker some sort of new content deal. NYT just announced a gating monetization model for their web content. Apple is widely expected to launch their iTablet next week. My sense is these things are related and NYT will leverage Apple’s device sexiness to charge people for access to expanded NYT content on the new tablet (if it actually exists).

  40. As many may have noticed, New Scientist has begun limiting the number of article views per months for non-subscribers. However, I just discovered an easy hack to get around that:

    1: When you get to the article, you will see the message “You have now viewed your 3 free articles” (or 7, if you’ve registered).

    2: Now select “Show Source” in your browser. This actually shows the article text, though with lots of HTML code.

    3: Copy the main body of the article into a text editor and save as .html.

    4: Now open this document in a browser to see a formatted version of the article.

    1. It can be done even easier, I found. In your browser, under “Show”, select “No typography” (or whatever that is called in your browser). This bypasses the block.

  41. You can’t charge to just simply view content, it would be like a movie theatere charging to look at posters out the front. They have to realise that if you are going to pay money then you should be able to have the content as some sort of accessible digital file that you own/keep. And that won’t become practical until portable devices like iphones and perhaps the new islate are common place, which I believe is what they are gearing up for.

  42. This is a necessary move for the NYT. They are really struggling (not as much as other newspapers, but still in deep trouble), and have had to lay off people in all sections of the company, including the newsroom. If the NYT loses money and can not do factual reporting, there will be no one for these other free sites to get their information from so that you can all avoid a paywall. It was an early mistake by newspapers and other media sources to allow free internet access, now that they are losing large amounts of money due to it everyone who is used to getting quality content for no charge are saying that it is their right to get other peoples work for free on the internet.

    As to you all who are saying that the NYT is biased and is inserting lies and manipulation into their articles, I would like to see one example of that. If you really care about unbiased reporting you should suck it up and pay for good journalism. Or, alternatively, you could get really good non-opinionated news on all the political blogs

  43. How about letting people read for free, but requiring a subscription if they want to comment? I think that people would pay for the privilege of mouthing off in a prestigious venue :)

    This hasn’t been tried anywhere, so might not work … but I think it’s worthy trying.

  44. it’s in their best interest to let me read a couple of articles.

    Actually, isn’t that in *your* best interest, not necessarily theirs? Because they’ve tried free access for years, and it isn’t keeping the lights on. To be more specific: Ad revenue alone isn’t supporting that business as it becomes an online enterprise.

    Why is it a dick (your word!) move to look for new ways to bring in dollars, when you’re one of the most visited news sites in the world — meaning you offer something people want, based on all those visitors — but you’re struggling to make money?

    1. Actually, isn’t that in *your* best interest, not necessarily theirs?

      Because there are plenty of people who have never seen the NYT and it’s pretty hard to get customers into your store when you cover the windows with butcher paper.

      Why is it a dick (your word!) move to look for new ways to bring in dollars

      Because shutting people out completely is a crappy business strategy that stinks of desperation and bitterness. There’s no cost to allowing people to read some articles for free. It’s called advertising.

      1. Hi, Antinous, a few reactions to your reactions to my reactions:

        there are plenty of people who have never seen the NYT

        The NYT is one of the world’s most visited news sites. It’s not lacking customers. It’s lacking revenue.

        crappy business strategy

        You might be right. Time will tell. But I know an even crappier one: Giving stuff away and not making money.

        It’s called advertising.

        Apologies for repeating myself, but this really is important for anyone who wants to be a credible critic of the NYT’s strategy: Putting ads next to free stuff is exactly the strategy that *isn’t* working. The Times has been trying that for years, and it is demonstrably not working as a business model. If this strategy worked, the Times wouldn’t have to change a single thing. People who say “advertising!” need to really just sit for a moment and absorb that fact.

        So how do you think it should bring in the money it needs? (Reminder you can’t just say “it’s called advertising.” Because again, that’s what isn’t working.)

  45. These charges seem like the cost of reading quality reporting. It doesn’t seem fair to expect the subscribers to subsidize the online readers does it?

  46. I would not mind paying to download articles from the New York Times, or anywhere else, if I could do it anonymously, and if it does not mean agreeing to conditions more restrictive than copyright law itself. Will that be possible?

    The Times says it will let people read a certain number of stories per month gratis, but that would seems to require that readers identify themselves. So I won’t read their articles, or link to them, unless I can find them elsewhere.

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