New York Times Goes Paywall (Machucandidate gets to test-drive)

It’s been an on again, off again affair for the New York Times, trying to figure out how to make money publishing a newspaper while making its contents freely accessible to all on the web. A few years back, the Times experimented with a paywall, forcing users to pay $50.00 a year for access to the paper’s online content. Then, at one point, the paper hid only its opinion pages behind a paywall. Finally, (no doubt inspured in part by the protestations of its editorial contributors) the paper opened up again, offering all its content for free to anyone with a web browser and the ability to remember (or bookmark) the word: NYTIMES.COM.

Now, the paper of record is set to put most content behind a paywall again, testing the waters to see if loyal readers are ready to drop hard cash to get their fix of Maureen Dowd as well as hard news and leisure reading. The twist that’s been added this time, is that all visitors will still be able to read 20 articles per month for free (Will a clearing of the cookie cache set you back to zero? Will using multilpe browsers, IE, Firefox, Opera Chrome, allow you to skirt the limits somewhat? All this remains to be seen.)

Beginning March 28, visitors to will be able to read 20 articles a month without paying, a limit that company executives said was intended to draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up the vast majority of the site’s traffic.

Once readers click on their 21st article, they will have the option of buying one of three digital news packages — $15 for a month of access to the Web site and a mobile phone app; $20 for Web access and an iPad app; and $35 for an all-access plan.

All subscribers who receive the paper through home delivery will have free and unlimited access across all Times digital platforms except, for now, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

Oh, and there’s one more thing:

The 20-article limit will immediately apply to readers accessing from Canada. That is to allow the company time to work out any software issues before the system goes live in the United States.

So congrats, Manchu. You’re Stinque’s official New York Times 5.0 Beta Tester. Please let us know how it goes.


Question not answered by the Gray Lady’s FAQs:
What about poors like me who have a Sunday-only paper subscription? Will I get the same unlimited access to the Times on the tubez? If yes, then I guess that’s one loophole.

I’ve just finished a fascinating article on the joys fail of Just In Time manufacturing.


I’ll be like Elaine in Seinfeld trying to decide in advance whether a NYT article is sponge worthy. If I only get 20 a month, the first on the chopping block is their emo economist. Krugman is never sponge worthy. Kind of a relief really.

One thing the Times has going for them is this: the last time they tried it, it was more or less possible to read the Washington Post instead. Today the Post has turned into such a Neocon cesspool that I cringe at the thought.

As for me, I’ll probably pay the piper. Information is going to get expensive, though. The Times will run me $15.00 a month, the Economist (which I’m thinking about subscribing to) is currently $10.00 a month. The New Yorker (if it ever arrives on my Nook Color) will be a few more $ a month. I’m already paying $20.00 a month for satellite radio. Not to mention all my other monthly bills.

OTOH, a greater shame would be for these publications to fail because they are not economcally viable. It costs big $$$ for the Times to keep all their international bureaus staffed.

I wished all along the Times would offer a “donations” Paypal link at the top of their page. Though I guess they feared being ridiculed and being perceived as amateurish if they did.

Speaking of The Majesty of the Media: I had to flee the “breakfast room” at my hotel because they were blaring Faux News and the breathless story was “Is it Appropriate that Barack Obama Filled Out a March Madness Bracket When We People Are Dying in Japan?”

Back to NYT: I wonder if the charges will be limited to the US and Canada City. One of the many reasons why Friedman and Kristof flipped out on having the op-ed section the only pay-section (besides their page views going down) was that Friedman was pimping his “The World is Flat” and was whining about how in the world would democracy activists in Third World countries be able to read his musings.

@Serolf Divad: I’m willing to pay, too. I’ve subscribed to the Economist for about 8 years – it’s worth every penny. They send out occasional notices of discounts on subscriptions, if I remember I can let you know next time I get one.

@SanFranLefty: I friended The Economist on FB and I read their posts every day.

paying for Maureen Dowd.


For an extra $5 a month they will block David Brooks.

@SanFranLefty: I have the NYTimes as my home page at work, so it defaults to the International Herald Tribune. I easily read (or partially read) 20 articles a day, but wouldn’t plunk down $20 a month for the electronic version.

As SD points out, the Post is no longer an option. Christian Science Monitor is always worth a gander. I just used airline points to get the paper version of the Economist (my former international gig came with a free ‘script for E), and am hoping that with that I can get the full access version for my iPad.

@Benedick AEA, AFTRA, SAG, DG.: Heh.

PS: North Africa may be in my future.

@SanFranLefty: My loophole is that my mom has a print subscription (not sure how she can afford it, come to think of it) and doesn’t use the website, so I’ll just set up an account for her and piggyback off of that.

@Nabisco: Oooo. I have an old friend who is right now working in the Sudan in what sounds like quite an important job.

The OH will subscribe as he reads the Times every day.

My last job was at a college, so we had free access while the paper was trying out its $50.00 a year model. If the Times is still doing that sort of thing, I suspect I’ll also have free access at the government agency where I now work (I can access Nouriel Roubini’s site for free, for instance).

@Benedick AEA, AFTRA, SAG, DG.: I knows lots of people working in Sudan now – we should get our people talking to our people. My gig – still just a tender bud of an idea, really – is north Africa. The one that just had a revolution. No, the other one.

I’ll be switching to the Guardian. I only read the Times for the recipes. And Kristof, who I can read on FB.

@ManchuCandidate: So, do they make you log in? Or do they just use cookies?

In other words, can you switch browsers to double your quota? And then delete the cookies and start from scratch?

@SanFranLefty: Sports talk radio guys were 100 percent behind the President on filling out his brackets. “What, like the guy can’t have a few minutes to himself?” was a popular take.

Let me play around with it on the weekend. I suspect cookies.

@SanFranLefty: @redmanlaw: It’s no-win with Faux. If he hadn’t filled out a bracket, he would have been an un-American elitist.

After Judy Miller, shouldn’t the Times be paying us to read their @#$%?

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