New York Times Adopts Pay Model for 2011

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Starting next year, the New York Times will limit free content. The move follows several newspapers’ initiatives, most visibly News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. ReadWriteWeb has more:

The New York Times confirmed today that beginning in early 2011 the company will adopt a paid model for its web site, NYTimes.com. The move comes at a time when much of the newspaper industry is searching for a way to stop the bleeding brought on by the Internet and the much smaller revenue streams provided by online advertising.

Many fear that putting content behind a wall of pay-only use will just drive readers to go to other sources, but perhaps the Times’ approach will help to combat that issue.

The company will adopt a different approach from the most famous already-pay newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, which offers just a paragraph or two before hiding the rest of the content for subscribers only. The Times will use what it is calling a “metered model”, which will allow users to gain free access to a yet undetermined number of articles per month before a subscription is required.

The announcement comes light on details of the plan, such as the number of free articles, how much the subscription will cost or precisely how it will work, but one thing is for sure – New York Times’ readers are going to have to pay to play. The company’s press release does tell us, however, that subscribers to the print edition will continue have access to the online edition.

Notably, the Times’ model intends to “provide the necessary flexibility to keep an appropriate ratio between free and paid content and stay connected to a search-driven Web,” according to the release. Acknowledging the nature of the Web while trying to retain a profit, and hopefully keep paying your hard-working journalists, sounds like a good method to us.

Fair enough. I do wonder, though, whether traffic and advertisers will flock to free sites as a result, making pay MSM sites carve themselves into more of a niche.

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