New York Times To Charge for Online Access

The New York Times will require paid subscriptions to access more than 20 articles a month commencing March 28. Here's the letter from the publisher outlining the terms.

When the Times went this route a few years ago with respect to its editorial content, the plan backfired. Will it be different now? And what if other major dailies follow suit?

It may not be as bad as it sounds. First, even non-subscribers will get 20 free articles a month. And, if you get home delivery, even for just the Sunday Times, you get free, full digital access on your computer, smartphone and tablets.

For blog writers and readers, the silver lining is this:

Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit.


I take that to mean that so long as I have a digital subscription, I can link to NY Times articles on TalkLeft and TalkLeft readers will be able to read the article for free. That's very smart of the Times, because blogs would stop linking to Times articles if they knew their readers couldn't read them without a paid subscription.

I probably link to NY Times articles than any other paper. I'm already fully subscribed, so I'm glad that I won't have to change that and that TL readers will be able to read the linked articles regardless of whether they have a paid subscription.

If you don't want to pay for home delivery of the Times, you can also pay for just the digital edition. The rate is $35 for four weeks, but on March 28 when it rolls out, there will be special offers.

The problem is going to be if other papers follow the Times' lead. So what do you think? Have we just become spoiled with all the free news content the internet has given us over the past decade? Or should papers continue to provide free access to all?

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    I think it's a mistake (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:13:21 PM EST
    I have no quarrel with their charing for content, but I think the price they are asking for a basic subscription is something like 12x too high. $15/year? Sure. $15/month? I think not.

    I value the Times, but I already have free online access because I can piggyback on my mother's print subscription.

    printed newspapers are dead (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:22:33 PM EST
    they just dont know it yet.  like those dinosaurs whos brain was so small their organs had to fail before they actually died.

    that is to say (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:23:24 PM EST
    major nation or international papers.  local not so much but still coming.

    Their pricing scheme for this (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:24:55 PM EST
    seems designed to get people to consider going back to print. Notice how they offer NO sweeteners for their massive price increase? They won't even turn off the ads. No doubt their advertising revs are still better in print.

    It's a stupid move.


    Or they are only thinking of print (none / 0) (#24)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 04:11:28 PM EST
    which has been the real trouble with most newspapers trying to compete with digital media.

    I'd pay $5 a month (none / 0) (#10)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:33:58 PM EST
    it's just such a significant jump.  I don't mind supporting radio stations and papers I find useful, but this isn't exactly a move that shows appreciation for their readership.  There are (as of now) other entirely free papers I can read.  

    Paul Krugman and David Pogue (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:35:33 PM EST
    I would gladly shell out to read. But not $15/month. And especially not if I still have to put up with the ads.

    The other thing (none / 0) (#15)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:45:26 PM EST
    I think people generally read multiple papers when they read news online (some of my favorites are the Guardian, LA Times, Miami Herald, then you have Yahoo News, the AP, etc.).  If they could all get together and charge $15/mo that would be fine.  At some point I assume the other papers are going to want to get in on the action too.  But I'm not going to spend $70 a month to read the news...sorry.

    Well, that's the cable model (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:47:49 PM EST
    and to be honest, I already pay too much for broadband.

    If the advertising doesn't pay enough, then some of these news outlets are simply going to have to fold.


    I'd like to see newspaper package (none / 0) (#25)
    by Coral on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 05:09:19 PM EST
    where you could subscribe to a group of papers for either monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee. That way I could have online access to several national and perhaps international papers.

    I agree that price is too high for just digital access. Guess they don't want to lose their print subscribers who might switch if there was a substantial savings for going digital only.


    I suspect I'll burn through twenty articles (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Gisleson on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 03:30:36 PM EST
    in a couple of days, searching for stories worth linking to.

    The important thing to remember in this debate is that newspapers have always been free. The pocket change we cough up is to pay for the distribution. Even at a dollar a newspaper, readers aren't paying for the cost of printing let alone news gathering. Those things are paid for by the advertisers.

    Charging for online content is a brand new charge created solely for the purpose of restoring newspaper profit margins to the hay days of 20% to 30% like it was in the '80s and '90s when newspapers used their news monopolies to jack their advertising rates through the roof.

    paying for Maureen Dowd (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 01:55:47 PM EST
    let me think . . .

    um, no.

    also about the limit (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 01:56:23 PM EST
    will deleting your cookies defeat it?  or using another browser?

    The digital subscriptions are (none / 0) (#3)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:01:04 PM EST
    two tiered and priced at $15 and $35 per month which I think is a lot of money in both a competitive media environment and in the midst of a recession.

    NYT has been playing with this even longer (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:17:51 PM EST
    than the experiment with the editorial content. Back in the early '00s I subscribed to a digital edition that came through a special ereader application. It was essentially a PDF version of the hard copy paper. Pretty cool - you could navigate around it more or less like a real paper.  Or else it seemed cool back in the 'stone ages' of 2001, when the newspaper web sites were not what they are now. I think the cost was about what this new digital edition is - $35 or so per month.  At some point I quit because I didn't have time to read it every day, and the editions were piling up on my computer. And then the free web site got good enough that there was no need.

    Never did try the editorial subscription. As Howdy says - pay for Maureen Dowd? And David Brooks and Tom Friedman? No thank you.

    I think this new plan sounds reasonable - it is fair for them to charge, and people have gotten spoiled with free content. I think that is a good deal that users can go through bloggers' links for free, but I wonder how long that will last.

    I'll look and see what the iPad edition fee is going to be - if there is still going to be enough free content get the news, or if I will be tempted into paying for it.

    Pricing seem bizzare (none / 0) (#9)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:32:11 PM EST
    Why would anyone pay $35 when you can get A Mon-Fri or Sunday only subscription for about $32, which includes what you got for the $35, plus a physical paper.  Seems like someone did not think this through.

    Apparently you can get full access (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:34:43 PM EST
    for subscribing to just the weekly book review, which is el cheapo.

    May I just subscribe to on-line (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:41:34 PM EST
    access to Entertainment section?  If so, I'll do it.

    headline of the day? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:43:34 PM EST
    Paging Jay Leno! (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:48:27 PM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#19)
    by sj on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:49:22 PM EST
    I can wish you were making that up.

    Hah. On first read I missed the headline (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:52:16 PM EST
    and thought you were filling in for the vacationing kdog re crime news!

    I SOOOO shared that (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:54:06 PM EST
    with my mom, siblings, and oh, yeah, on my profile on Facebook.

    Funny article (none / 0) (#18)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:48:28 PM EST
    from BoingBoing about the NYT decision.

    Boring. Google/Twitter/Facebook loophole. (none / 0) (#22)
    by Dan the Man on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 03:20:59 PM EST
    Techcrunch reports that they are going to allow google/twitter/facebook free access but only 5 times a day.  This is a huge loophole which is easy to exploit.

    1st fake your referrer as google/twitter/or facebook.
    2nd block all cookies from the new york times.

    Since I already do this (I do #1 via a firefox add-on), this doesn't change a thing for me.

    $35 is a ripoff. (none / 0) (#26)
    by Angel on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 05:17:38 PM EST