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The Almighty Buck Media The Media Technology

New York Times Ends Its Paid Subscription Service 169

Posted by Zonk
from the ding-dong dept.
Mike writes "The New York Times has announced that it will end its paid Internet service in favor of making most of its Web site available for free. The hope is that this move will attract more readers and higher advertising revenue. 'The longer-term problem for publishers like the Times is that they must find ways to present content online rather than just transferring stories and pictures from the newspaper. Most U.S. news Web sites offer their contents for free, supporting themselves by selling advertising. One exception is The Wall Street Journal which runs a subscription-based Web site. TimesSelect generated about $10 million in revenue a year. Schiller declined to project how much higher the online growth rate would be without charging visitors.'"
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New York Times Ends Its Paid Subscription Service

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  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:07AM (#20648453)
    Now we can actually read all those articles that are lined from Slashdot!
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by ShieldW0lf (601553)
      Do they have articles? I thought they were just a teaser website. Oh well, they can't be very good, or I would have read one of their articles by now. I wonder if there is anything interesting on the front page of Wired...
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vtcodger (957785) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:31AM (#20649127)
      ***Now we can actually read all those articles that are lined from Slashdot!***

      You could have anyway. Registgration is free, and if you get your back up about that, it'll take you about five minutes with Google to find a publically posted login and password that will work.

      What's more important maybe is it sounds like they have opened up the archives. Maybe now if you want to find out about how good a job Donald Rumsfeld did in his first term as Defense Secretary in the Ford administration or want to track down details on CDCs suite against IBM, you can do so without spending a fortune.

      Of yeah, and now I think we can read the columnists. that's a mixed blessing for sure, but Krugman's economic views are widely respected and it's annoying to have to wait for someone to break copyright and post them elsewhere.

      • by dryueh (531302)

        What's more important maybe is it sounds like they have opened up the archives. Maybe now if you want to find out about how good a job Donald Rumsfeld did in his first term as Defense Secretary in the Ford administration or want to track down details on CDCs suite against IBM, you can do so without spending a fortune.

        First term as Defense Secretary in the Ford administration? How about reading an article from last week? The NYT archives its articles insanely fast --- I put out a weekly news bulletin mai

      • I know. But it was funny...

        I really am irritated, though, when people link to articles on sites that require registration. It is a rude, thoughtless act. Even if the registration is free, it is a PITA to register on just about everybody's favorite site, and keeping track of them all even more so.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:08AM (#20648457)
    You can get the article here [nytimes.com].
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:08AM (#20648461) Homepage
    If they opened up the archives, their website would instantly become *A LOT* more useful.
    • by CortoMaltese (828267) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:18AM (#20648527)

      If they opened up the archives, their website would instantly become...
      ...slashdotted!
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:45AM (#20648669) Homepage

      If they opened up the archives, their website would instantly become *A LOT* more useful.

      There are such things as libraries, though. The San Francisco Public Library, for one, offers access to a complete online newspaper archive that includes the New York Times in addition to many other papers. The deal is, you have to punch in your library card number to access it. After that, though, you can read, save, and print all those articles that the Times purportedly keeps under lock and key.

      The fact that most people don't even know this makes me fearful for the future of libraries.

      • by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:59AM (#20648757)
        The fact that most people don't even know this makes me fearful for the future of libraries.

        Of course, the fact that most internet users don't live in the US and so can't walk into a a US Public Library to access the New York Times archives may also help make the online archive useful ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RESPAWN (153636)

        There are such things as libraries, though. The San Francisco Public Library, for one, offers access to a complete online newspaper archive that includes the New York Times in addition to many other papers. The deal is, you have to punch in your library card number to access it. After that, though, you can read, save, and print all those articles that the Times purportedly keeps under lock and key.

        The fact that most people don't even know this makes me fearful for the future of libraries.

        There are also such things as underfunded back-woods county libraries that don't offer this level of access. Yeah, I know. My fault for living where I do, but the rent's cheap. The point is: by opening up their archives to the internet their content can be accessed by a MUCH larger audience than before. Not everybody lives in large US metropolitan areas with properly funded libraries.

        Some of us live in the next county where the funding just plain sucks.

    • by gambolt (1146363)
      From the mid 80s onward is now freely available
    • by MissP (728641) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:27AM (#20649105)
      "If they opened up the archives, their website would instantly become *A LOT* more useful."

      Sigh. But not to this crowd, who can't be bothered with reading beyond the headlines. From the FA:

      Starting on Wednesday, access to the archives will be available for free back to 1987, and as well as stories before 1923, which are in the public domain, Schiller said.
  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:12AM (#20648477) Homepage Journal

    In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/business/media/18times.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin [nytimes.com]
  • Thank God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mad Martigan (166976) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:14AM (#20648491) Homepage
    I used to read the Times Editorial page once, twice, sometimes three times a week. Until Times Select. Then it was, "Krugman? Friedman? Who?" Putting the content behind that wall made the Times' columnists practically irrelevant. For better or worse, the Times has some of the most talked-about columnists in the country, and their importance evaporated almost instantly when the unwashed masses (me) could no longer read them. I, for one, am more than happy to look at a picture of a car or a book or whatever a few times a week if it means (in some small way) invigorating the national conversation.
    • Re:Thank God (Score:4, Informative)

      by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:22AM (#20648541)
      Then it was, "Krugman? Friedman? Who?"

      Thankfully Friedman has been available on Youtube. [youtube.com]
    • [The Times' columnists'] importance evaporated almost instantly when the unwashed masses (me) could no longer read them.


      So, now that the unwashed masses again will have access, will their importance, erm, un-evaporate?

      I think there's a good chance of that, and I, for one, will be furiously refreshing the opinion page come midnight. ;-)
    • by chartreuse (16508)

      Putting the content behind that wall made the Times' columnists practically irrelevant.
      You say that like that's a bad thing. There's not a few people who'd be willing to pay to keep the likes of Maureen Dowd, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman out of the public discourse.
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        I subscribed so I could read Dowd. There is no one as catty who pulls if off as well. To me, Jeb Bush had little to do with the election of 2000. Dowd and the brown suit stuff she wrote were the most important factor. Friedman's warmongering has been very influnential while Krugman's free trade agenda has likely done more to cause environmental damage worldwide than just about any other single thing. The position of these writers provided by the newspaper with all the news that fits is quite important
      • Welcome to Slashdot! And you have such a low UID. I'm impressed.
    • by Rix (54095)
      I'm happy to filter a picture of a car or book with Adblock for the same.
    • I guess the phrase "national conversation" is enjoying a bit of life. I'll have no part of it. I think of national teenagers wielding national cellphones and sending national text messages to each other with their national thumbs.
    • by QuatermassX (808146) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:39AM (#20649411) Homepage
      I left America several years ago to live in London and one of the few things I miss was the straight to the point of dull news from the New York Times and their thought-provoking columnists. Putting a third of the paper - and the most unique elements of the paper - behind a paid wall seemed to be a one-way ticket to irrelevance. I can read wire stories for free anywhere, but the editorial and op-ed pages really do influence the American national discourse - keep them open-access for all to read, discuss (or completely dismiss and ignore).
    • For better or worse, the Times has some of the most talked-about columnists in the country, and their importance evaporated almost instantly when the unwashed masses (me) could no longer read them.

      I think you might be onto something.

      The WSJ seems to be doing well with their subscription service, but they implemented differently from the NYT; the columns in the opinion journal are free, but news reporting requires subscription ( although the WSJ seems to give some news stories out as well ).

    • Wait, they were irrelevant before they went behind the wall!
  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:15AM (#20648495) Homepage Journal
    It costs you nothing. You'll increase your ad generated revenue on people wanting to revisit this today's date one year ago.

    Second thing is allow commenting on stories, but then you'll be flamed by the readers.

    Heaven forbid the old gray lady figure out why people don't read her pages any more. We've been trying to clue her in for years now.
    • It costs you nothing.

      Because bandwidth and server maintenance are free.
      • Because bandwidth and server maintenance are free.

        The already have the infrastructure built up to provide the content, yet they charge for the content. If you pay the price, you still get to see the ads. Eliminate the fee, you increase the ad revenue.
        The incremental costs of increased bandwidth are negligible, actually it is a much desired consequence because that means more revenue coming in from page views.
        • The already have the infrastructure built up to provide the content, yet they charge for the content.

          So do you think they might want to make some money back off that investment?

          If you pay the price, you still get to see the ads. Eliminate the fee, you increase the ad revenue.

          That may be true, but its by no means a guarantee.
  • by imaginaryelf (862886) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:20AM (#20648535)
    Putting your most influential op-ed writers behind a pay wall is a sure way to make their voices irrelevant in the Internet age.
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Putting your most influential op-ed writers behind a pay wall is a sure way to make their voices irrelevant in the Internet age.

      Yeah, really... people sure ignored the hell out of The World is Flat. It was so irrelevant that Friedman's put out, what ... three different editions so far?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by value_added (719364)
        Yeah, really... people sure ignored the hell out of The World is Flat. It was so irrelevant that Friedman's put out, what ... three different editions so far?

        Well, to be fair, the OP's point could be restated that the "pay wall" did nothing to increase their columnist's influence in the wider world, particularly with younger readers. Personally, I think Friedman is an astute observer but an overrated writer who suffers from being overly-excitable with respect to his own ideas.

        The Times' decision is a good
        • by PCM2 (4486)

          Personally, I think Friedman is an astute observer but an overrated writer who suffers from being overly-excitable with respect to his own ideas.

          No argument here.

      • Yeah, but if I really wanted to read Thomas Friedman's writing, I could skip the middle man and go straight to the press releases of companies like Tata and Wipro. That is pretty much what he regurgitates. The man has the critical thinking skills of a fish.....
    • Maybe curbing the columnists' influence was the main intent of Times Select. The upper management of the Times is loaded with neocons, from the owner, Sulzberger, on down. Remember how strongly Sulzberger tried to protect his lying neocon reporter, Judy Miller.

      Perhaps the management thought the peacenik columnists like Krugman, Herbert, and Dowd were too influential. I've always thought that Times Select was a brilliant way to muffle the columnists without actually seeming to be censors.

      Of course, no

  • by eebra82 (907996) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:24AM (#20648551) Homepage
    Where do I sign up to read the announcement?
  • Crossword? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FlamingLaird (245347) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:35AM (#20648615)
    The question is whether they're going to free the crosswords. Not to shortz the rest of the paper... but that's what everyone really cares about.
    • by SL Baur (19540)
      Yeah. And they even used to have a solver program that ran on Linux (1997/1998 time frame). I read their stuff religiously everyday until they canceled that.

      NY Times crosswords rule. Solving NY Times crosswords on Linux was at least as much fun as WoW.
      • by jefu (53450)

        NY Times crosswords rule.

        NY Times crosswords are great, but for sheer mind-bogglingly twisted word fun, the Atlantic Monthly crosswords take the cake. Sadly, they're now only available online (probably due to all those thieving photocopy machine users) and with a subscription to the print magazine.

        • You can also get cryptic crosswords (the type in Atlantic Monthly) from every issue of Games Magazine or Games World of Puzzles Magazine. Or by joining the National Puzzler's League and getting their magazine. If you're looking for more of them.
  • Times Reader (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:42AM (#20648651)
    Unfortunately their innovative Times Reader [nytimes.com] appears to be pay-only as of yet.

    One would think that there are two sure-proof things NY Times could do to secure large audience for their advertisers.

    1. Their image as a respect newspaper, not just NY, not just US, but world-wide. Their journalists are respected, and their content verified, their analysis intelligent.

    2. Better presentation than the average site.

    Well, Times Reader is that point 2. If they gave me the reader for free, I'll most likely to there for my shot of news and editorials, since it's simply better than browsing a web site.

    And hence, the NY Times won't have to compete with the other blogs and sites as much as if they remained free only in-browser.
  • ... In other news, the use of bugmenot has drop by ninety-eight percent, and the owners of that website can now be found at West 23rd and Broadway bumming for change.
    • I found funny that one tag is bugmenotwins... unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV), I am sure the NYT will be a bit disappointing by the differences in the stream revenue after doing this. I believe that the people that would pay for reading the new york times is the same that is going to read it without ad blocking and maybe click on the ads, whereas people that used bugmenot or other means to bypass payment are the ones that will use AdBlock or any other advertisement blocking mechanism.
  • by AaronLawrence (600990) * on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:12AM (#20649045)
    Personally I like to have the option to pay for no ads. As I do on slashdot (mind you the slashdot cost is very low).

    Although these days there is less point paying for a single publication/site. NYTimes seems good, but as a non-citizen it was never enough to pay for...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Personally I like to have the option to pay for no ads.
      Doing that may or may not be a good idea for an ad-driven business like the NY Times.

      On the one hand, they might make more money.
      On the other... they would have less eyeballs to offer their advertisers, which means less money.

      If there isn't a big difference in profit, it's usually better to think long-term & keep your big advertising partners happy. You'll ultimately make more money that way.
  • by LotTS (967274) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:18AM (#20649065) Homepage
    I do not believe all information on the internet is supposed to be free (in terms of price). Wayyy back in the 90's before the internet was mainstream I had a paid subscription to NY Times, even though they were 2-3 times more expensive than my local paper, because I felt the quality was so much greater and was willing to pay for that quality. The newspaper still had ads from revenue back then, but I still had to pay for it and was willing to do so.

    Fast forward to today and I still believe that - the news quality of a NY Times piece is still premium quality, but the difference now is that the news is 100% paid for by advertisers. My conscience is making me turn off my browser's adblocker plugin when I go to NY Times's website now.
  • Then along comes the internet and they say "subscription model!"

    scratches head

    From article:
    The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge
  • by qazwart (261667) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:43AM (#20649421) Homepage
    Just wanted to reply to some people:

    1). "The archives should be free"
    The archives for the last 20 years are now free. Those over 60 years (public archive) are also free. The ones between 20 to 60 years ago are the only ones you get charged for.

    2). "I'd pay extra for ads free/The TimesReader should be free"
    The TimesReader is still a charge for service, but it contains no ads. This is probably why it isn't free. The big problem is that it is "Windows Only", so Linux and Mac users can't use it. (Yes, I know you can run a Windows emulator, but that's not the point!).

    About a decade ago, the idea of paying for your webpage with ads and actually make money seemed silly. "That would never happen." "IIt was a dot.com pipedream". Now, as the New York Times discovered, subscription services are simply not as profitable as ad supported websites. TimesSelect made money, but not as much as if the content was free. Plus, now that it is free, Google searches are more likely to include New York Times articles.

    Any bets when the Wall Street Journal will drop its subscription service?
  • Um...why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @07:00AM (#20649505) Journal
    "The longer-term problem for publishers like the Times is that they must find ways to present content online rather than just transferring stories and pictures from the newspaper."

    Why?

    For chrissakes, no matter what you think of the paper as a journalistic entity, nor what you think of its editorial decisions, nor what you think of its columnists, it really is the newspaper of record for the United States.

    They have an extraordinary breadth of content. Why can't they just "copy stories and pictures from the newspaper"? If anyone in the media business would be able to generate bulk traffic (read: advertising $$) from sheer content without any particular bells and whistles, it would be the website that simply mirrors the staggering amount of content from the NYT.

    Add to that a searchable archive of the NYT going back to the beginning, and I frankly can't think of a single media outlet in the world that could match it for comprehensive historical information on daily events pertinent to the United States.

    Huge content, daily updates, impeccable credentials - yeah, who'd imagine THAT could draw significant pageviews?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Foolicious (895952)
      I'd go even one step further and say that I -WANT- the online and print versions to be the same or similar or at least have some sync or unified feel to them. I dislike seeing a headline in passing or hearing about an article on the radio and then getting online and not being able to find it because the print and online versions of newspapers are so different. I don't know if I'm in the majority or if I'm weird, but that's what I'd prefer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BigDumbAnimal (532071)

      Huge content, daily updates, impeccable credentials - yeah, who'd imagine THAT could draw significant pageviews?
      I can't wait to ready all that high quality work from Jayson Blair.
    • by ErikZ (55491) *
      It doesn't seem to matter. You see, when they started charging for it, nobody wanted it.

      So how amazing can the "Newspaper of record" be, if no one is willing to pay for all that "content"?

      Going by that alone, the NYT has almost no value.
  • by MrCopilot (871878)
    And there was much rejoicing.
  • ...when I first signed up for my NYTimes account back in 1999 all the articles were free - or at least the same group they just made free. (Perhaps the ones that are not free now are so because they are not guaranteed to be on-line and someone has to type them in?) I was a little annoyed when they started charging access for anything older than 2 weeks - it made a good chunk of my inbox (where I stored my daily e-mails from them, that includes headlines, etc.) irrelevant.

    Fortunately for me, they did this
  • It is my top net news site due to its original content. That would have been one of the few online services I would have paid money for had it gone to a full subscription business.

    However, I felt it was stupid to go halfway. People would pay fro all-or-nothing, not half-and-half. They basically cut 2/3rd the audience of their more interesting columnists like Krugman and Friedmen. I dont agree with them, but liked their insights.

    Hopefully Murdoc will liberate the Wall Street Journal soon too.
  • I'm am concerned that scientific journals in university libraries are disappearing. I used to love to browse the current issues on open shelves, but libraries are increasingly subscribing to all-electronic editions. In many university libraries this now requires student enrollment or being an employee to read these.

    I find this ironic, because the modern system of knowledge is contructed on open publication, replication and repudiation. Only the professorial "elite" will have access. Further ironic be
  • by ebs16 (1069862)
    There's more info in the NYTimes' own article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/business/media/18times.html [nytimes.com]
  • by HTH NE1 (675604)
    @media screen {
            a[href*=".nytimes.com/"]:after { content: " [reg]" }
            a[href*="//nytimes.com/"]:after { content: " [reg]" }
    }

    Goodbye, link-flagging client-side stylesheet rules. Good times.
  • Slashdot readers interested in the news that the NYT is "free" might be interested in other free as in beer newspapers. Who could possibly resist the temptation to visit the best newspaper in the English language - The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/ [thesun.co.uk]
    You can check out if it is going to be a Zoe McConnell day, which legend has it, augurs good luck.
    The Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/ [miamiherald.com] is free too and available in a Spanish edition. Speigel (the English version) http://www.spiegel.de/international/ [spiegel.de] is
  • It took them long enough. I exchanged email with the NYTimes years ago about the whole issue of paid internet subscriptions. I told them right out that it wasn't going to work but they didn't listen. I can't imagine how many readers they lost because of that move. It's nice to see them finally come around.

    Even so, it is a sign of our times that news sources are being forced into these lower-revenue situations. The quality of the news we get has been degrading slowly for decades but the internet has ser

  • since most everything they report news about
    is available in 3,495 other places on google news,
    i've made it a point to generally avoid them, because
    its 'just one more !@#$ password i have to deal with'...

    looks like they've decided to broaden their readership. :-)

    2cents

  • This will probably be most (it is more than 12 hrs that the story was posted, so the likelihood of this being read diminishes exponentially inverse).

    Why are the Slashdot editors so lame and lazy? Instead of pointing to Reuters for the story go a link to the original editorial by the New York Times!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/business/media/18times.html [nytimes.com]

    It explains that editorials are now free. That some (but not all) the archives are free.
    That the decision is driven by the importance of search engines
  • Cool! I've been missing reading their insightful and non-biased commentary.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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