Our days of reading The New York Times online for free are numbered, according to New York magazine. After a year of "contentious" internal debate, Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger is "close" to announcing that NYTimes.com will implement a metered pay system — akin to the Financial Times' model, which lets readers enjoy a certain number of articles each month before fees kick in. Is The Times on the verge of repeating its failed TimesSelect experiment, or is the era of free news coming to an end?
The Times is risking irrelevance: The New York Times is "a brand name that I value," says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, but the bottom line is "they’re simply not irreplaceable and I’d stop reading them if they were behind a pay wall." Worse for The Times, bloggers like me would stop linking to their pieces. I understand their financial dilemma, but this solution is "a recipe for disaster."
"NYT online going pay-per-view"
The Times' fee approach is backwards: The real problem with the proposed metering system, says Jeff Jarvis in Buzz Machine, is that it punishes "the readers who are worth the most" — those who "come back again and again" — while giving a free pass to the "worthless" ones who only read a few articles a month. That's backwards. The Times should "remember what we think of meter maids. We curse them."
"The cockeyed economics of metering reading"
A metered system could work if done right: "Any smart metering system will work more like a taxicab," says Felix Salmon at Reuters, and if The Times implements an incremental, user-friendly, pay-per-view system — rather than the "dreadful" Financial Times model — and exempts linked-to stories from the paywall, this could work. Let's hope the Times doesn't ruin what's "arguably...the best news website in the world right now."
"How the NYT should construct its paywall"
Take the report with a grain of salt: The idea that people will pay for reading the Times online "isn't at all outlandish," says Foster Kamer in Gawker, especially if the payment system is set up like Apple's iTunes. But this wouldn't be the first time rumors of an NYTimes.com paywall have been false, and the New York story is "fairly shaky" in terms of its sources.
"Parsing the New York Times' paywall plans: The rumors, the realities, and the catch-22"