Paywall not keeping readers from New York Times website

by CHARLES HICKS

The online readership of The New York Times has remained steady since the implementation of a paywall on the publication’s website last March. When the announcement of the paywall was made, it was a new approach to online readership, and many critics were skeptical as to whether asking readers to pay for online content would work. *cough* Jimmy Wales. *cough* Arianna Huffington. Looks like they might be eating their words.

This is further fodder for the fire of selling news-for-profit, an obvious idea that was employed for over 150 years until the Great Mysterious Internet Monster convinced journalism companies to give away, or even pay for, their product to get in the hands of the consumer. Until the past two or three years, no journalism company could hold a candle to The Monster, but in the depths of Manhattan, a sword has been forged in the form of the paywall. Sure the sword looked good on paper, but the question was, “Does this thing work?”

The answer isn’t “yes” yet, but now that The New York Times has shown readers are willing to pay for quality, it is leaning more in that direction. We are seeing other advances in institutions accepting the notion of a paywall. The 2nd Paywall Strategies conference is being held next month in London to discuss digital product development, pricing models for online content, and monetizing customers not content.

Are y’all comfortable with the idea of a paywall, or is there a better way to solve the dot-com bust of journalism?

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4 Comments on “Paywall not keeping readers from New York Times website”

  1. Maria Torres says:

    I think there are two ways to look at this: from the perspective of the unassuming, casual consumer of news and from the perspective of the seasoned, news-reading veteran.

    Perspective one: Sometimes college students need to read a Times article for a single assignment. I know that in my experience with a biology course, several online assignments required the reading of archived Science stories in order to be able to answer questions. Had I not already subscribed to the Times, I would not have been able to access those, let alone make a good grade in the course. So, no, as a college student who doesn’t really have the extra funds to shell out $15 a month for a service I won’t really use other than for schoolwork, I am not comfortable with the paywall.

    Perspective two: But as a regular consumer of news, I would be willing to support the paywall. If I like quality and I want to continue to read the Times, I don’t see why the paywall should hinder me — as long as those $15 aren’t cutting into my budget too deeply. It’s not like I’m forced to read that particular paper. I can get my news from anywhere else — CNN, Time, AJC, etc. The Times would just be my first choice.

    I think the Times is within its rights to charge for its services, especially since it needs to find a way to boost its profits. I can’t think of a different way they could do it.

  2. sutlive2 says:

    Dear Charles Hicks,
    I believe that there can be a balance between a paywall and free online news.
    If a newspaper business makes readers pay for all their online articles then the readers will just copy and paste the titles into an internet search engine and get the articles for free.
    In my opinion readers will not pay for every article that a newspaper website has.
    However if the readers can read about 20 articles a month for free, such as the NYTs then that could be considered an incentive to pay for some of the newspapers online articles.
    However I have read some articles that claim people can bypass the paywall. This might indicate that the incentive for paying for articles would need to be higher. Maybe readers should be allowed to read thirty five to forty articles for free before they have to pay.
    Regards,
    Samuel Sutlive

  3. bsharp18 says:

    In my opinion,I think that the idea of a paywall can be looked at from a journalistic perspective, as well as a consumer perspective. On one hand, with the multitude of media outlets now available including “dot com” oriented news, more times than not consumers can find a way around having to pay for the news or current information they are looking for. Why would consumers want to have to pay for news, if they knew they could get the same information at zero cost. On the other hand, journalists have been receiving compensation for providing reliable and current news for many years and so while technology changes, so should the way we pay for benefits. If a paywall does not stay implemented to receive at least a partial amount of the news we receive, we as a society are risking losing reliable and current news. The incentive for journalists to stay on top of their A game will decrease drastically if they start losing the market that provides them benefits for their work.

  4. dws1210 says:

    I believe that the paywall is a good thing for the New York Times. The fact that they have such a loyal following of readers makes me think that they should have no problem getting people to to pay for the quality news they’ve come to expect from the Times. I even imagine that some readers would be happy to support the New York Times efforts to remain profitable during a time when news companies are struggling to find their place in the economy. For that matter I find it comforting that the Times and others are beginning to sell their news on the internet as it brings in more income and opens up more jobs in the field of journalism. I, for one, like the reassurance that news companies are still attempting to make money seeing as I’m majoring in journalism and would like to have job opportunities after college.


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