Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Paying for a Gray Lady

Logo of The New York Times.Image via WikipediaBeginning next Monday, The New York Times' paywall will be unveiled.

Those who visit (30 million readers monthly, by the daily's estimate) will be able to view 20 articles free of charge before they have to choose from among three digital options: $15 for full access to four weeks of the Website and a mobile phone app; $20 for access to the Website and an iPad app; or $35 for all-access. Except for e-readers such as Kindle and Nook, Times subscribers who receive home delivery will have free access to all Times' digital plaforms.

Times executives expect 85 percent of their online visitors will not surpass the free 20-article quota, but are banking on not losing readers who can access news for free at CNN, BBC and other Websites. Readers may access the Times via search engines such as Google or from social media including Twitter and Facebook, but there is a five-article-a-day limit, which sounds like a journalism "happy hour."

Ad revenues for the Gray Lady declined 2.1 percent in 2010. "TUOL" has addressed the imminent Times paywall construction in the past (see "TUOL"post 1/21/11), and, although columnist Thomas Friedman is still around to solve the world's problems, this blog wonders how many visitors will pony up for the twenty-first article now that Frank Rich has taken his considerable talents to New York magazine and other standbys such as the Sunday magazine's "On Language" column have gone the way of the dodo and, er, the newspaper.

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