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The Almighty Buck The Internet News

NYTimes Confirms It Will Start Charging For Online News In 2011 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-bears dept.
jmtpi writes "The article is frustratingly vague, but the New York Times is confirming earlier speculation that it will start charging online readers who visit the site regularly. Occasional users will still get free access to a certain number of articles per month. Most of the key details are not yet determined, but the system is scheduled to be deployed at the beginning of next year." The Times is planning on rolling its own pay system, and it will doubtless use the rest of 2010 to look at how sites like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times fare before deciding on specifics. How often do you readers typically hit articles at nytimes.com in a given month? We try to avoid linking to stories behind paywalls when possible, and if the Times chooses a low monthly limit, you'll probably see a lot fewer links to their site — which would be a shame.
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NYTimes Confirms It Will Start Charging For Online News In 2011

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  • Duh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:00PM (#30832846) Journal

    Cue "OMFG They're so irrelevant!" whiners.

    Frankly, it's about time. They spend millions a year to produce a product (written news stories) and they have two delivery formats for said product: One, a pay product printed on dead trees, which accounts for the vast majority of their revenue. And two, a free digital product that doesn't make shit, with the added bonus that it makes their paying product worthless.

    Seems like a no-brainer. Now, the question becomes, will they charge a fair price, or will they pull a record company move, and try to charge the same for a physical and a digital product?

    One thing is for sure. If it works out for them, you're going to see tons of print outlets following suit.

    • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:04PM (#30832912)
      The problem is that the "pay product printed on dead trees" was losing subscribers at a steady pace before they started producing the free digital product. The NYT's problem is that there are not enough people who want to pay for what they are selling to cover thier costs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

        The problem with paper is paper itself. Paper costs have been doing up steadily for decades. Gas costs increase. Ink costs increase, and the demand for a high quality printed product increases.

        It's too much. The physical print product has been getting more expensive, delivered to a smaller area, and at the same time, becoming a smaller product because the phbs have chosen to scrimp on content generation on top of everything else.

        So yea, of course it's been shrinking. But that doesn't mean people aren't inte

        • by Pojut (1027544)

          I think they should charge per section while offering a discount if you want access to everything. While I don't read the Times, if I did I know that I would likely be ignoring half of it (style sections, etc.) That way, they can truly see how much revenue each section brings in and I don't have to pay for something I won't read.

          Thoughts?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by maxume (22995)

            I'd be more interested in cheap, short subscriptions (say, $0.25 for 12 hours).

            That would work out to a pretty pricey annual rate, but it would fit the way I access their content.

          • I wouldn't mind something like this. I personally would probably only be interested in technology and business sections myself. As would, I presume most people on here, perhaps substituting Business for Politics. Just the same, it would be nice to have each section for say $10-20 a year, and the entire paper for say $50/year. I do think they'll probably try to charge quite a bit more than that though, and will likely continue to fade.
            • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Informative)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:31PM (#30834408) Journal

              Well, the cost of a daily print subscription to the New York Times is 14.80...For a week. Mind you, that's to my house, and I live a long fucking way from NYC (checked it against my old NYC zip code, and it's only 11.70 there).

              So, given that the bitch costs 800 bucks a year for us plebes who don't live in New York, and only around 600 for the pricks who do, I'm guessing that 50 bucks a year would be a bit of a steal. =P

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Pojut (1027544)

        You mean people don't want to hear opinions presented as facts? Huh...sounds like Fox News has us fooled -_-

      • But they're too big to fail! How will people live without their news!

        If this move fails, its time for a bailout.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812)

        The problem is that the "pay product printed on dead trees" was losing subscribers at a steady pace before they started producing the free digital product.

        What I've found curious about this whole issue is that nearly all the commentary and discussions I've heard or read about it has settled on the problems of newspapers. It's as if they think that people have bought newspapers because they want the cheap, cruddy paper, and the news printed on it is just incidental decoration.

        I've even heard/read a few disc

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Actually, I think there are far more people than you think around the world who read the NYTimes and would be willing to pay a small price to read it online and on their slate/kindle/device of the future. I know I would happily pay a subscription of a few $ a month for it, which if you added it up could come to an awful lot out of the over 300 million people on Earth who read in English. It has better international coverage than other US papers, and that many here in the UK.

        The problem with newspapers nowad

    • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:05PM (#30832938) Journal
      It won't work. They already know this - they've tried it before. Stupidity is doing the same thing you did before and expecting different results.

      "This time it's different!"

      Yes, it is. Much more competition, the Great Recession, high unemployment. 3 more reasons to fail.

      The industry needs massive consolidation - like maybe 90% of the print papers folding.

      • They tried to do it...in 1995. Big deal. No one cared about the internet version then. It wasn't a viable delivery platform for 95% of the world.

        Now, things have changed. People pay fees for internet sites all the time. It's that stupid 5 dollars a month to Pandora, or wherever, for "premium" content.

        Shrug. I think we're already seeing plenty of papers folding. The mistake you're making is thinking that what pops up to take their place is going to keep generating free content. That model just doesn't work.

        • It's that stupid 5 dollars a month to Pandora, or wherever, for "premium" content.

          I've found that I can switch to last.fm when my Pandora time runs out each month, so there's no need to pay Pandora. (Or I *gasp* listen to my bought music.) I like Pandora for the music they've brought me, sure, and I show that by giving them referrer credit on every Amazon MP3 purchase.

          I've asked them to find a way to track referrer credits, but they don't have the capability to do so right now.

        • by Alinabi (464689)
          Back when I paid for my subscription to The Economist, that included the delivery medium. Now I already pay $45 per month for the new delivery medium (my cable internet connection), so I feel justified to expect some free content to come with that. That is, in a nutshell, the reason why I (and most people) will rush to pay Murdoch or anyone else for news. I wish them good luck with their plans. Over and out.
          • by tepples (727027)

            Now I already pay $45 per month for the new delivery medium (my cable internet connection), so I feel justified to expect some free content to come with that.

            You're reading that free content. Consider these premium news sites to be more like HBO.

            • by Alinabi (464689)
              Well, I don't pay for HBO either. And no, Slashdot is not content. It's mostly noise.
          • by natehoy (1608657)

            You're paying $45 for the "new delivery medium", but that's not paying for any news to go with it unless they stated that in your contract. News is paid for by subscriptions and/or advertising. What you're paying for in your internet connection is the dead-tree equivalent of reams of blank paper. It's up to you to find something to fill that paper. No one else is obligated to give you anything to fill it.

            Digital content should be somewhat less expensive than the dead tree counterpart, but unless you can

        • They tried to do it...in 1995. Big deal.

          Actually, their last attempt to construct a pay wall was called TimesSelect, and debuted in Sept. 2005. (see wiki page [wikipedia.org]). They abandoned it after only lasted two years, until Sept. 2007. How much have "things changed" since then?

      • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:13PM (#30834090) Homepage Journal

        The industry needs massive consolidation - like maybe 90% of the print papers folding.

        Arguably, they already have. The newspapers have been merging with each other like crazy.

        When it comes to producing "real news", there are only a few newspapers left beyond the local level. All newspapers that run national news subscribe to the wire services; they're really just sharing stories with each other.

        When local "big" news breaks (e.g. shooting, bridge collapse), the wire service story starts as local news in the local paper, then gets picked up nationally.

        For truly national news, only a few papers report it: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press's own reporters, plus the news networks and a few very high-end bloggers. That's about it for news gathering. Everybody else is just relaying it from the others.

        Their international bureaus are nearly all gone as well, except for the papers I mentioned, and they're cut back.

        The local papers still have a reason to exist, the local news, but for national and international, they get it faster and better online. Unfortunately, local news has a poor draw, and often doesn't even merit a daily paper, even in a medium-sized city.

        You don't want to lose them; they do important work as the Fourth Estate on the local level. But nobody seems to care much about it.

        • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Knara (9377) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:34PM (#30834448)

          You don't want to lose them; they do important work as the Fourth Estate on the local level. But nobody seems to care much about it.

          I think people believe that good reporting appears out of nowhere, or something of that sort. They also seem to think that bloggers are the equivalent to professional journalists, instead of simply being the web equivalent of "talking heads".

          I mourn for the loss of a vibrant press in the US simply because people want shit for free and can't stand to pay a buck for a paper.

          • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by david_thornley (598059) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:48PM (#30834630)

            I think some people believe that good reporting appears, period. My experience with news media is that they have distorted every story I've had personal knowledge of. Every so often, some journalist will be caught with outright lies and disciplined, but I don' t know how many get away with it.

            I'm willing to pay for news (and I do), but I'd like the opportunity to pay for good journalism.

          • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:14PM (#30834976) Journal

            I think people believe that good reporting appears out of nowhere, or something of that sort. They also seem to think that bloggers are the equivalent to professional journalists, instead of simply being the web equivalent of "talking heads".

            So groklaw.net isn't up to the standards of "professional journalism?"

            Maybe you should talk to a few professional journalists ... they'll tell you about the on-the-job office politics, the ass-kissing, the stories that get spiked because someone's favourite ox is getting barbequed, the "we want to slant it differently", the "our stories have to reflect our new owners core values" ... amateurs can do as good a job, or better, simply because they don't have to kiss ass to keep their paycheck.

            Don't count on any newspapers being around in 10 years.

    • by Ferzerp (83619)

      You may call them "whiners", but they have a point. Why would I pay for content that I can get for free anywhere else? Why would I pick the NYTimes over any of the free sources of similar information? You are forgetting who the customer is in regards to news. The customer is the advertiser. How much are you paying for your network news exactly (not that I personally watch the news, but still)?

      • by schnell (163007)

        Why would I pay for content that I can get for free anywhere else?

        That's the whole point of the New York Times model - they do provide original content and in-depth reporting. Columnists, sure, but that's not really the value for most readers. What you typically find on "news aggregator" recycle-AP-news-endlessly sites is a basic "what happened" account. The NYT hires many of the best reporters in the business and gives them the time and resources to write longer analysis pieces that seek to provide context, explain what's happening behind the scenes and what it may mean

        • by MBGMorden (803437)

          What you typically find on "news aggregator" recycle-AP-news-endlessly sites is a basic "what happened" account.

          For better or for worse, that basic "what happened" account is all that most people really give a shit about. That level of content is fine under ad support, and since most people want that, then it will survive.

          For any product you can have a luxury version and a mere functional version. The luxury version will ONLY survive if there are sufficient customers willing to pay extra for it. I just don't see the customers being there for pay news sites. If NY Times goes pay I suspect that within 15 years they

      • by pz (113803)

        You may call them "whiners", but they have a point. Why would I pay for content that I can get for free anywhere else? Why would I pick the NYTimes over any of the free sources of similar information? You are forgetting who the customer is in regards to news. The customer is the advertiser. How much are you paying for your network news exactly (not that I personally watch the news, but still)?

        And you're forgetting that the NYT typically has better reporting, based on many criteria, than any other news outlet in the US, which is why it might be reasonable for the reader to pay for it, and why there really isn't another free source to replace it. Furthermore, while advertising provides substantial revenue for the NYT, if advertising were sufficient to cover all production costs, the NYT wouldn't be seeking revenue from their readers.

        Personally, I'd be much happier paying full price for my news an

    • by arogier (1250960) *
      Even with the printed newspaper I was under the impression that advertisers were still the most relevant revenue stream. News has always been about selling advertisements. The issue is the rapid expansion in venues in which are open to advertisers. Conde Nast has the same problem.
    • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:16PM (#30833118) Journal

      the reason they are losing relevance is because they chose to give up relevance in doing their newswork.

      Instead of articles covering issues with the government we get tiger woods, britney spears smeared all over the front page. That would be, you know irrelevant as a news company yet every one of them, times included, does that.

      So really, they're just speeding up the result of their own decision. good riddance.

    • Actually I think their problem is that they think their product is more valuable than it is. Specifically when the world was less connected, they performed a service that few could and were a method of connecting people and information over great distances. The world is no longer as disconnected. Additionally, they can provide a very high quality service compared to competitors but if that difference in quality is not valued by the consumers it's just wasted.

      Do they still provide value, absolutely, bu
    • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FileNotFound (85933) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:38PM (#30833544) Homepage Journal

      "Fair Price" is exactly what will determine if this fails or succeeds.

      NY Times Select would have been ok if it was say $12 a year instead of $50.

      The problem is that the media seems to be happy to perpetuate the image that "people do not pay for media online". It's just not true.

      How many people here pay for Pandora or Slacker? What about Fark? What about the new Ars subscriptions? What about forum accounts from SomethingAwful?

      Frankly, what I really want would be a micro-transaction sort of system. I would be happy to pay 5 cents per article I read on NY times. Sounds tiny right? I'd say I read at least 5 articles on a week day. That's a quarter a day, $5 a month. More than the $50 they ask for.

      Yet I'm sure more people would be attracted to the 5C per article model vs the $50 upfront subscription.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rinoid (451982) *
        Agreed about the pricing structure ... I don't recall what the "view archived article" cost used to be but IIRC it was over a buck. For a researcher OK I guess a few articles here and there would be fine but for the average reader the news is ephemeral -- I very rarely want to pay .99 for an old article I will read once. .99 for a song -- you betcha, I'll have years of enjoyment for that one dollar.
        • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:05PM (#30833958) Journal

          My idea (and I've actually cornered the CEO of the media company I work for in an elevator, and made him listen to it) is that all new news should be for-pay. You should have to subscribe or do a micro-transaction or something.

          But after 2 weeks or a month, it should be free. That way you get your upfront revenue, but then you can take advantage of the long tail as well, and sell ads on that content.

          The newspaper I work for is almost 200 years old (not a journalist, just a techie). Can you imagine the value of that much content if it were indexed and made available? This isn't wikipedia: this is primary source, research material. Stick an ad on it, and make your nickel off something that was written more than a hundred years ago.

    • To be honest, I stopped reading NY Times articles when you started having to sign in. I haven't been back since. I get most of my news from the BBC and CBC websites. Don't tell either, but I'd probably pay a monthly subscription for their sites.

    • I'm okay with paying for the New York Times. I agree the quality of their articles makes it worth it. Lengthy, well-researched content costs money to produce, and people like myself and the rest of the Internet thrives on the professionally-produced news. Without it, Slashdot and my blog would have much less to link to.

      Where I am against this is the implementation. New Scientist magazine and the WSJ have both gone the metered/subscription route. So if I want to access their content, that's two sets of us

    • by hodet (620484)
      I also welcome this, just sit back and let "Supply and Demand" take its course. If the model is sound and delivers value to those who read the Times then its a good thing for them. If not, readership goes way down and they have other problems they need to address. I still can't wrap my head around the whole online news business model. There are tonnes of news outlets easily accessible to all for free. I don't see much differentiation out there, and those that have differentiated themselves are able to
    • Frankly, it's about time. They spend millions a year to produce a product

      Hell Half of what they use isn't produced by them,
      It is produced by the AP and Rewritten or Direct Copyposta from the AP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bws111 (1216812)
        Do you know what the AP is? It is an organization OWNED BY THE PAPERS for the purpose of producing things for them. It is not some magical entity that spits out news articles for anyone to pick up for free. The millions a year the NYT spends to produce a product includes the money it spends in the AP. All these people who think 'we don't need papers, we have the AP' are in for a rude awakening. When the papers die, AP goes with them.
  • The New York Times sees a massive drop in readership. What the market is actually willing to provide with advertisements wasn't good enough for them...
    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      The New York Times sees a massive drop in readership. What the market is actually willing to provide with advertisements wasn't good enough for them...

      Indeed. It reminds me of a friend of mine a few years back. He was unemployed at the time (not eligible for unemployment) and had no income whatsoever - nor did he really have any marketable skills. He kept applying to jobs that he wasn't qualified for and getting no results. At one point I kind of nicely suggested that, for a while, he try to get a job at a fast-food place or in retail or something. That was beneath him though. "That won't even pay my bills!" he shouts. Apparently he preferred to hav

      • Decentralize Me! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by headkase (533448)
        That's the thing, companies need to work within the market realities. There are niche's everywhere but my opinion is that the NYT does not fall into many of them in comparison to existing offerings. If they are really running themselves into the red as they say then as you say they should cut back or restructure. Or do something else. But making people pay while there exists free alternatives is just plain dumb. Perhaps some day there will be no alternatives for institutional news, but you know what wo
  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:02PM (#30832876)
    I hope and wonder if people who subscribe to print/paper version will get free online access. If they don't it will be pretty greedy. I believe Wall Street Journal provides free online with a paper subscription.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blahbooboo (839709)
      Oh crap, duh, in article it says it's free. Next time read before writing!!
    • If they don't it will be pretty greedy.

      You say that as if they're offering a public service and the management is trying to skim a little of the top for themselves. The fact is, they're a publicly traded company (or are owned by one) and have a responsibility to the share-holders to make as much money as possible. Why would you ever expect a company to not make the most money possible within the confines of ethical business practice?

      The question is simply whether an online pay system will work. The product is certainly of high quality but ad rev

  • There are plenty of other sources of free (decent) content available on the internet, at least of similar quality. Obviously, we'll see what the market thinks of all this.

    Of course, I'm sure it will be trivial to game the website anyhow.

    • by causality (777677)

      There are plenty of other sources of free (decent) content available on the internet, at least of similar quality. Obviously, we'll see what the market thinks of all this.

      Of course, I'm sure it will be trivial to game the website anyhow.

      Regarding "gaming the website", why scheme to illegitimately obtain what you can legitimately obtain for free? It's not like news is difficult to obtain. If the NY Times had anything like a monopoly on news sources, this move would make a lot more sense. As it is, it seems their goal is to enrich the advertising revenues of competitors who offer no-charge news sites with ads.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by avilliers (1158273)

      Actually, there are only a handful sources of similar content of similar quality, and the two that immediately spring (WSJ and the Economist) are behind pay walls.

      God knows the NYT has its flaws (WMD and Whitewater, as high-profile examples), but in terms of original national (US) reporting it's way above the AP or the BBC. I think the WSJ is (was?) better, but their big stories (Enron, back-dating options, Vioxx, for example) are obviously business related. McClatchy seems to have an edge documenting iss

  • That they'll make a hojillion dollars [penny-arcade.com] more than they'll lose in setting up and maintaining their paywall, and in reduced advertising revenue from all the eyeballs that they'll lose?

    Really? That's some serious hubris they're pitching there.

  • But the big issue with the NYT is that despite being a global player, it still has this New York focus that makes it less useful for those of us not in New York. The BBC does truly global coverage, and there's no American equivalent. NYT is the closest we have, but they're going to have to do more to prove that they're a global player and not just a regional paper with really good national and international coverage before I pull out my wallet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      Their global page shows less of that focus:

      http://global.nytimes.com/ [nytimes.com]

    • by nomadic (141991)
      But the big issue with the NYT is that despite being a global player, it still has this New York focus that makes it less useful for those of us not in New York. The BBC does truly global coverage, and there's no American equivalent. NYT is the closest we have, but they're going to have to do more to prove that they're a global player and not just a regional paper with really good national and international coverage before I pull out my wallet.

      If you're not in New York, then why bother going on?

      But se
  • Key Details (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:06PM (#30832970) Homepage

    Occasional users will still get free access to a certain number of articles per month. Most of the key details are not yet determined

    Wait, is that key details in the ARTICLE?

    Scientists warn of a deadly meteor that will hit the earth in 3 days striking the state of (register to read more)

  • by autophile (640621) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:08PM (#30832996)

    Back when NYTimes had set up a paywall/registration-required site, I never wanted to go through the hoops to get to an article. After they stopped doing that, it was just sort of habit not to read articles on the site. So why change now?

  • by peterwayner (266189) * <[gro.renyaw] [ta] [3p]> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:11PM (#30833040) Homepage

    Let me first thank everyone who's submitted an article to Slashdot with a link to something I've written. The comments are almost always a great gift and I look forward to reading most of what people write, especially the ones who RTFA.

    My only request is for everyone to be open to new ways of paying for the synthesis of information. It is very difficult for humans to compete with the robot link farms and the casual content created on places like Facebook. If we want people to synthesize we have to find some way to come together as a society and fund them.

    I realize that it's attractive to look at the almost non-existent distribution costs of digital content and imagine a world where information can be completely free, but this avoids dealing with the costs of creating it in the first place. We need to find a good way for everyone who consumes content to effectively share the costs of creating it. If we don't, the information ecosystem will collapse.

    Please be open to the writers and publishers who are going to try out more mechanisms for distributing the costs among the consumers. Try them out and reward the ones that deliver something of value. Ignore the ones that aren't worth your time. But please don't dismiss them out of hand.

    Finally, I want to point out a piece I've written about some of the downsides of the free ecosystem for information. Perhaps this might suggest that there are some advantages in embracing a paywall, at least occasionally.

    http://www.wayner.org/node/67 [wayner.org]

    • I have access to so much high-quality news and editorial information for free that it's hard to justify paying for more information that doesn't have much to differentiate itself except the name of the source.

      What makes the New York Times worth paying for that I can't find from 100 or 1000 free sources via news.yahoo.com or news.google.com?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Da Fokka (94074)
        There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Maybe it's free to _you_, but someone is paying, in this case someone with a good old-fashioned newspaper subscription. Google doesn't have correspondents around the world, they just aggregate news form sources who do. Currently, these sources are being paid by their subscribers but subscriber numbers are falling.
        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          If the money isn't coming out of my wallet, then for all I care, it is free.

    • by houghi (78078)

      My only request is for everyone to be open to new ways of paying for the synthesis of information. It is very difficult for humans to compete with the robot link farms and the casual content created on places like Facebook.

      Open to it? Sure. Just like I am open to getting stuff WITHOUt paying for the synthesis of information.
      Sure, competition is hard. We will see in the end what happens and it might be some third option we have not even yet thought about.
      I will be open for anything as long as you are also o

    • by MaraDNS (1629201) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:42PM (#30833618) Homepage Journal

      Mod parent up! :)

      Seriously, people here love to talk about how the "new economy" makes it possible to remove "artificial scarcity" and make it so everything is free.

      What these people ignore is that, even if it costs no money to copy something, it still costs money to create something. There is still, in this "new economy", the very real economics that the majority of content people use (Computer programs, movies, music, television programs, written articles, etc.) is content that would not exist if someone wasn't being paid to make it.

      I enjoy reading all of the articles on the New York Times' front page [nytimes.com] every morning, and understand I soon may need to pay for the privilege of reading the quality journalism and writing the the NYT offers.

      Now, I'm sure someone will point to open source software and say "Mr. MaraDNS, you don't know about open source software and how this proves that we can have all the compelling content we want for free in the 'new economy'". I will point out to people who think like this that I am, in fact, a developer of open-source software [maradns.org].

      People who think open-source software (OSS) makes it possible for all content to be free don't understand how OSS changes the relationship between the developer and the user. A lot of people think an OSS program is like a commercial program, but free, and that they can ask for features or get support for free, and it gets pretty tiring to have people email me asking for free support, even though I make it clear that I don't provide free email support for my program [samiam.org].

      The thinking behind OSS is that I donate some of my coding time and effort to the greater community. In return, people are free to contribute bug fixes or improvements to the program, or supply support on the mailing list. For example, someone wanted better IPv6 support, supplied patches, and now MaraDNS has good IPv6 support. Another person wanted better Windows service support, and supplied patches to make MaraDNS' new recursive core be a full Windows service. Other people answer user's questions on the mailing list or translate documentation. Webconquest [webconquest.com] very generously provides me a free Linux shell account and hosting for the web site.

      Likewise, I found an OSS Doom random generator I liked and provided bug fixes and improvements to it [samiam.org]; when I lost interest in it, another person became the maintainer and improvements continue to be made even though I no longer work on that code. And, there is a Free Windows Civilization clone [c-evo.org] for Windows which I have provided a bug fix and extended the documentation with [samiam.org].

      OSS doesn't mean we have the right to demand all content be free or are justified in pirating media and software. OSS means that we can, together, make free content which complements the for-pay content out there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AB_Rhialto (1490817)

      I think this is the great information age challenge; how do content producers (and I am not necessarily talking about the publishers here but potentially the 'artist' themselves - more on that in a following paragraph) receive compensation and how do I as a consumer support them. This is not a new topic since single sign on and micro-payments have been a topic discussed for quite a few years.

      Personally I would like to support the creators of content, however, bulk payment (i.e. monthly subscriptions) just

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:06PM (#30833978)

      Thanks for responding, Mr. Wayner. It's interesting to hear from someone on the inside of this issue. I find that I disagree with a lot of the points you listed in the linked piece. But I find a lot of value in the insight you offer.

      Having said that - I had no idea who the heck you were. I had to consult Google to get some indication. I hit Wikipedia to get a bit more insight. With that in mind, I thought giving your piece a look was worthwhile. If any of that was locked behind paywalls, I would have zipped along on my merry way, dismissing you out of hand as yet another curiosity that I don't have the motivation to pursue over the boundaries set before me.

      How supporting you as an author while not putting up too great a boundary works... well... now, that is the question, isn't it? It'll be interesting to watch (in so far as train wrecks invoke a certain facination). But I don't believe the NY Times has the answer.

      I should note that my interest is a little more than average freeloading consumer of information. My father is a noted author in his small field. But he has always had to struggle with the economics of that activity. It has always been difficult to make money doing what he does - at least on his niche subject matter. He has a current project that ran in to a dead end with the traditional publishing route and we are currently looking at a more open tactic (open publishing of the bulk of the project linked with paid references, teaching aids, and speaking engagements). I hope my fascination with my father's project isn't the aforementioned train-wreck variety; only time will tell. But I do know that traditional strategies / pay walls have only served my father so far.

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:13PM (#30833082)

    I don't pay for access to news (unless looking at ads counts as paying). Few single news sources cover a high enough percentage of the kinds of stories I am interested for me to allocate actual money to said sources. I'd like access to Nature, and New Scientist, and a number of technical sources, but rely on "second hand" access as other free sources report on *their* stories. Given that I rarely complete covering these summaries in a day before I have to actually deal with life in the real world, I don't think it is worth my money to get access to things I don't have time to ready anyway.

    The Fate of any news service behind a pay wall or limited free pay wall is obscurity. No news story in the NY Times can remain exclusive to the NY Times unless nobody cared about that story in the first place.

    But I like the idea that they are going to "wait and see" how others will fare over the year. I don't have to wait, I can tell them their growth and revenue will be flat at best. Them kind of returns are not going to excite the NY Times, and I'd bet in the end this will never really happen.

  • by squidfood (149212) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:13PM (#30833084)

    - which would be a shame.

    Is this the slashdot mafia coming out? "Nice article. Shame is something were to... happen to our link to it."

  • This will keep content open to search engines. Occasional readers will not be effected, so there will not be the issue of the draconian pay wall. For those who wish to read it regularly, there will be an option to pay. I hope it will be $50 a year rather than $150-200. I must admit that more than $10 a month would put me off. I am sure that physical subscribers will get a free online subscription.

    And for those who love the paper, and want to read it, but hate to pay(I am talking about those who read it

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:21PM (#30833224)

    Slate did this, the NYT should talk to their management about lessons learedn.

    They used to be a popular well read site that decided that a paywall was the way to, regardless of what their readers told them. They later added an interactive ad that you had to get through as a means of allowing people to visit without paying. By the time the word they changed back to an ad based site for free the damage was done. By then it was too late and a fair part of their user base had been alienated and simply moved on.

    How many people would be surprised that Slate is no longer a pay site, and you can simply read it without any hoops? I would imagine a fair number of people as they probably haven't visited the site in years. For the meanwhile, the damage has been done and Slate is a shadow of their former self.

    I've said before, and I'll say it again, the news is a commodity, if you want visitors you have to differentiate yourself against Reuters and the Associated Press. You can either do that with original reporting and or a better experience. Adding a paywall only works with a substantial investment in one or both, witness the Wall Street Journal which has original repoorting of high quality for an example and has been behind a paywall for years.

    • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3 AT justconnected DOT net> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:44PM (#30833634)

      Most would argue that the NYTimes has both original reporting and a better experience. Their website is nice and clean, and they're still one of (if not the) premier newspaper in the world. For example, they broke the NSA wiretapping story.

      It would be highly damaging if they were to disappear. It's not like they could just be replaced.

    • by dachshund (300733) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:16PM (#30834142)

      Slate did this, the NYT should talk to their management about lessons learedn.

      You make a number of valid points. However, I believe that you're talking about Salon.com [guardian.co.uk]. Slate is and (with possibly some limited exceptions I'm not aware of) an advertising-supported site that still gets tons of links and traffic.

      On a more substantive note, two things: (1) stories will still be free to users who read only a few per month, which helps to avoid the Salon.com problem. (2) It doesn't take effect until 2011 which means they still have time to abandon the whole thing if advertising revenues tick upwards.

      I still think it's a rotten idea.

      • by onyxruby (118189)
        In the words of Homer Simpson "D'oh". You are right and I wrote Slate when I met Salon....
  • Aggregation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by macintard (1270416)
    It's either this or continue the slow boil. However, I would be more willing to spend my cash for an aggregation service like Google News or something similar. I use the Internet to get my news not just because it is convenient, but also because the number of sources I can easily review gives me broader coverage. I have no idea if the Times play will be successful, but I do think they need to examine their business - they aren't just a newspaper company anymore, nor is CNN television news anymore - they'
  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:25PM (#30833312)
    I regularly read The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail (I apologise in advance; it's just that I like to know what Fascist Britain is getting up to from time to time) online. I wouldn't read any of these if they were behind a pay wall. I did subscribe to the FT for a month (a free month) but what was contained therein was not compelling enough for me to actually give them a monthly sub. I can get free news elsewhere, e.g. the BBC online website (leftist, ethnic-peace bicycle politically correct news I grant you, but news nonetheless) and various blogs.

    The fact of the matter is that most people when compelled to pay, will simply move their viewing elsewhere. As long as there are places to get news online free of charge, pay-walls won't work for the masses. I guess the next step of course, once the pay-walls have gone up, is to claim copyright over any and every story to prevent publication in blogs!
  • "Good luck with that!"

    I try to avoid the NYTimes website as much as possible since there are so many other available resources that are IMO better.

  • The Economist, the FT and the WSJ are not free. However these are specialist magazines aimed toward people who need opinions and news in finance. I do not see how the NYT will find a niche of people who are willing to pay a subscription.

    What the analysis is probably missing is that, like many people, although I am subscribed to The Economist, the FT AND the WSJ:
    - 1 - I am more or less forced to read these since it is a part of my job
    - 2 - The average reader of these magazines is earning more money
  • What will happen is that readers will get their news from other sites, e.g. theglobeandmail, cbc, bbc, cnn...
  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:45PM (#30833660) Journal

    As this article at The Atlantic [theatlantic.com] points out, the NY Times makes more money from subscriptions than from advertising. If they can get enough money from subscribers then they don't need to worry about page rank, hits, click-throughs, etc.

  • I'm curious how they intend to implement this. A workaround might be as simple as deleting some cookies, a trip to bugmenot, or using a leaked university / company-wide password.

  • I have been paying for Wall Street Journal Online for possibly as long as 10 years. Robert Murdoch, who purchased it a few years back, has been changing the pay model a lot to maximize revenues. I'm likely to unsubscribe over the next month or so for the first time since I first began using their online service instead of paper. Here are the changes that have made it worse for paying customers:

    1> Added advertising for paid subscribers. 2> Confused what is free and what is paid for. This is a never ending moving target. It is very confusing when you try to share something with non-subscribers. 3> Huge price increases at renewal time that I have to renegotiate over the phone. 4> They throw their video content on the home page, which you go to about 20 times a day. On laptops I use all day in an office environment, I have volume muted so do not benefit from this. Yet, it freezes Firefox while it downloads the content for about 20-30 seconds every time I click on the home page. I've asked them to remove it, to no avail. 5> Announced that blackberry access will no longer be included with regular online access. Separate fee required. This, to me, is the straw that is breaking the camels back, and why I will unsubscribe as soon as this goes into effect.

    It is sad to see the NYT follow the WSJ's lead in this. I'm willing to pay for content, but they really do need to find a model that works and stick with it instead of changing it every 3 months. They are pushing long-time paying customers like me away.

    Erik

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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