Knight Center
Knight Center


Holes and all, New York Times paywall goes live

The New York Times pay model goes live today, March 28, and now the question on the table is whether readers are going to start paying to read online articles they are accustomed to accessing for free.

Readers still will be able to access some free content -- up to 20 articles, photos, videos or other content pages a month -- before the paywall goes up, charging $15 to $35 a month depending on whether you just want online access, or whether you also want the iPad app and smartphone content. If readers sign up now, they will receive a discounted subscription of just $.99 cents for the first four weeks, Mashable said.

Holes in the paywall also allow readers to access NYT content for free from blogs or other links.

Whether it spells salvation or doom, the Times paywall is an attempt to find a sustainable business model that can help pay for journalism in the face of ever-declining ad revenue and print subscriptions.

Still some, such as former NYT designer Khoi Vinh and The Guardian's Emily Bell, wondered what might have been had the NYT spent its two-year, $40 million paywall investment on developing new products and innovations, instead. As Vinh wrote, "Not only has the company missed an opportunity to build something for new audiences, but they may also be signaling an entirely counter-productive message to their existing audience, and in a very lasting way. I worry."

In a letter to readers, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said the "introduction of digital subscriptions is an investment in our future. It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to strengthen our ability to continue our journalistic mission as well as undertake digital innovations that will enable us to provide you with high-quality journalism on whatever device you choose."

WBUR radio pointed out that other newspapers, such as the Boston Globe, are looking to the New York Times as an example as they consider erecting their own paywalls.

This blog is produced at The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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