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Media The Almighty Buck

New York Times Exploring how to Charge for Content 332

Mr. Christmas Lights writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times is mulling subscription for Internet Archives. It doesn't appear that the free (but subscription required - BugMeNot to the rescue!) ability to read NYT articles less than a week old would change. However, instead of paying $2.95 per article for stuff that is more than a week old, one idea being floated is an annual fee of $49.99 for unlimited access to anything in the last year." (More below.)

Mr. Christmas Lights continues "The WSJ has been pretty successful with their online subscriptions - over 700,000 people currently pay $79 ($39 if you get the print edition) a year for full online access of the last 30 days of articles - the story above happens to be in their public area. But they are a notable exception, with media organizations struggling to charge for News now that it is widely available for free on the Internet. For example, Slashdot recently discussed the AP's plan to charge members to post content online. Will the "GoogleZon" end up replacing the 4th Estate as depicted in the entertaining and informative 8 minute EPIC video?"

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New York Times Exploring how to Charge for Content

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  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:12AM (#12430902) Homepage
    Or we could just explore other sources of news than the New York Times. I can sympathise with their need for revenue, but they are certainly not worth $50 a year for me to access, and certainly not worth $2.95 per article.
    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:29AM (#12431026) Journal
      I agree. 2.95 is a bit steep. Even their paper print (which costs them the most amount to produce) are not 2.95/issue. Maybe 10 cents/issue. Or $20/year for unlimitted access for consumer/non-profit level (businesses should pay more as they will use the service more and probably for profit)
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:41AM (#12431133)
        And it's not like they have any valid justification for claiming that back issues cost much money for them to host...

        Yeah, you have to have the hardware and the storage space but it does NOT cost $2.95/issue.

        If you want people to use the service and get the information then make it priced reasonably. I know that I have posted about this before but I will repeat it: If you want to keep your users and don't want them to go to a competitor don't do this...
        • Re:Or... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HomerJay ( 557235 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:28AM (#12431538)
          As someone in the newspaper archiving business I can tell you that it does cost quite a bit for the newspapers to handle the archiving, storage, and sales of archives online. Add to this that they usually aren't doing it as a feel good service to their readers, but as an additional revenue stream and you find the prices mentioned in the article are about average.

          They also have to track usage and somtimes pay royalties to their article sources which is added into the price.

          Don't forget that most people looking for older newspaper articles are doing research, not reading the news, and paying a small fee to get the one or two documents they really want doesn't bother them at all.
        • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:07AM (#12431911)
          Yeah, you have to have the hardware and the storage space but it does NOT cost $2.95/issue.

          FYI, a 20 oz soft drink does not cost anything near a $1.09 or more, but people routinely pay that or more for them.

          To me, its not a matter of the $2.95 per article that is turning people off. Its the inconvenience of paying that for an article that may or may not be exactly what you are looking for.

          In other words, I would pay an annual fee for an excellent service like Google, but I would be damned if I would reach into my wallet every time I hit the search button.

          What may be a working alternative for the NYTimes is for them to somehow verify that the contact info is real (I can't tell you how many times I've registered with every random answer possible, but thats another story) so that they can allow something like 5 or so archived articles per month for free, but send you a monthly bill for people that go beyond the 5. Kinda like using 411 on your phone or something.

          I really am interested in what will become of the serial print media. Newspaper subscriptions have been falling for years due to TV news channels and the internet, yet there is still a need for a local news for things like classified ads and local advertising and news, but that need is much lower than it used to be, but it has not become obsolete nor do I see it as becoming obsolete in the near future.

          Oh, maybe they will just follow the model of other changing business models and make their revenue via lawsuits of their customers or potential customers. That is always an option.
          • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SnapShot ( 171582 )

            In other words, I would pay an annual fee for an excellent service like Google, but I would be damned if I would reach into my wallet every time I hit the search button.

            Exactly. The problem with a cost per article model is that it interferes with the way we are accustomed to using the web. An article sparks a thought, which causes me to search the web for related information, which uncovers a possibly related article, which sparks a refined thought, etc., etc.

            Anyway for $50 a year for access to the

      • Businesses who need that sort of record access already subscribe to services like LexisNexis who already license that content and have better search capabilities as well. Why pay extra for less?
    • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:33AM (#12431066) Homepage Journal
      I don't think it would appeal to the average consumer - 50 bucks a year, 3 bucks an article, both sound about the same to me - as in, sounds like I won't be reading that article - but I wonder if NTY even believes it would. For a research reference, it could be well worth it though. I could see political campaigns, lobbyists, PR agencies, a lot of different things finding a $50 fee well worthwhile for being able to get that instant access online to the NYT archives.
    • Re:Or... (Score:3, Funny)

      by kaalamaadan ( 639250 )
      You pay not just for the apparent content - you also pay for the journalist ethics and morality that goes into responsible journalism. If NYT is not worth $50 annual fee, neither are our freedoms. The "4th" estate has been an essential ingredient in democracy (I know about India's case), and I think a bit of repayment is in order. Though, I do not support the established media's efforts in suppressing the emerging blog culture.
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cybermage ( 112274 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:38AM (#12431110) Homepage Journal
      certainly not worth $50 a year for me to access

      I'm sorry, but I don't get this attitude. Do people really think that news should be free?

      Newspapers are very important to our society. It is the only medium in which the reader is actually paying for the news they receive. Why is that important? Well, strangely enough, just about everyone works to serve the interests of the people paying them. TV news, especially Cable networks, aren't paid for by the people watching -- just the advertisers. Newspapers are partly paid for by advertising, but they wouldn't exist without paid subscribers.

      Try this experiment at home:

      Buy a newspaper, say the NYT for example. Then check sites like CNN, Fox, etc. to see if they are carrying anything like the depth of stories you see in the newspaper. I'll bet that on the International News and Business side you won't find more than 60-70% of the stories on the news websites. For local news, try comparing your local paper to your local TV news website. It'll be just simply embarassing for the TV guys.

      Now, try to tell me that 14 cents a day isn't worth the difference in coverage between Print and TV/Online coverage.
      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )
        Well, newspapers werre very important to our society because they had a monopoly on the news and they had the place of being where legal statements were to be posted (name changes, arrests, that sort of thing).

        They've let that status to go thier head, in the case of the NY Times and in the case of other "vital" news agencies like Reuters and the BBC so that they feel they can craft the news or spin it how they feel is right.

        As for the TV and Radio news being paid for by advertisers...gee...last time I loo
        • Re:Or... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by DogDude ( 805747 )
          And so, where else do you get good quality news? Blogs? Slashdot? Or is news and facts just not important?
          • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:32AM (#12431583)
            Yes you get quality news in Slashdot and blogs. You wanna know why? Because there is critique. Maybe the article itself might be leaning one way or another, but the comments will provide the necessary explanations or corrections.

            I find Slashdot fascinating because of the comments. Yes there are idiots, but there are also very intelligent people making intelligent comments. Where do you get that in newspapers? Newspapers have a single editor (or small team) with certain slants.

            Take for example anything that Fox news produces. There is a slant in their news. Can anybody critique the comments Fox news has made? No, because they control the medium and the reactions. With Slashdot and Blogs that is simply not the case. Slashdot and blogs represent the voices of the people! And after all is that not what the news is all about, the people?
            • Theres a slant in the Times, Reuters, CNN, BBC, everyone has a slant. The problem is that NY Times, Reuters, CNN and the BBC have an aura of being "untouchable", mediums of "record". It's easy to rail against Fox News because they wear thier bias on thier sleave, instead of the whore in the alley or the "escort" Fox News is the hooker on the corner smoking a cig, hiking up it's skirt.

              So you can rail against Fox News, but if I were to say Reuters has as much bias as Fox News because of Reuters word selectio
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by catseye ( 96076 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:54AM (#12431257)
        Sadly, among the largely 16-21 year old, male-dominated, non-long-term-thinking, annoyingly over-opinionated, idiot-savant Slashdot crowd, paying anything for information, regardless of real value, is an anathema. Your argument is sound as a balance of value and benefit, but when you read comments in stories like this, you realize that almost no one on here (and this really is unique to Slashdot -- it starts at the top, look at how disconnected and disengaged people like CmdrTaco, et al are) thinks it through that completely.
        • What? A Slashdot poster that makes sense?! This can't be allowed to stand. You'll be banned soon enough to keep groupthink intact.
      • Re:Or... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quarkscat ( 697644 )
        The NYT can charge whatever they like for their news, either in print or digitally. That's what free markets are all about. If enough customers raise a stink about the subscription price, they will go elsewhere.

        But, if the NYT wants to use digital news (and news archives) as a revenue stream, they will need to (eventually) digitalize their entire news archives, not just for the previous year. At that point, even I would consider subscribing (and I am a tight-wad.)
        • But, if the NYT wants to use digital news (and news archives) as a revenue stream, they will need to (eventually) digitalize their entire news archives, not just for the previous year. At that point, even I would consider subscribing (and I am a tight-wad.)

          Their PDF archives have gone back to 1851 for quite a while now. This shows that your second point is entirely moot -- you've never considered subscribing, or else you would know this...
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

        by dmayle ( 200765 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:46AM (#12431708) Homepage Journal

        I'm sorry, but I don't get this attitude. Do people really think that news should be free?

        I really think it's you that is in need of a reality check. News is free. If you don't believe check out any of the multitude of free newspapers, whether they be local community papers, to the ever increasing juggernaut that is the Metro.

        but they wouldn't exist without paid subscribers.

        What you're paying for with a newspaper is the cost of paper, and delivery, that's it. That's why free newspapers like the Metro can exist, because they have very low paper costs, and require the reader to share the cost of delivery. (You have to go pick it up from one of a much smaller number of available locations.)

        to see if they are carrying anything like the depth of stories you see in the newspaper

        You've got to be kidding yourself if you think that paying for news somehow makes the news any better. I can buy any number of Star/Sun Magazines or National Enquirers, hell the NY Post practically fits this category. (I know, trolling, sorry ;-) ) What makes for good news is the underlying ethic of who's in control at the top. That's it.

        I read the Economist, both in print and online, because it's a news magazine that's serious about providing good news. I don't watch Fox News, because I know Fox News is about sensationalist reporting designed to increase viewership with the end result of pushing an agenda.

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

          by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:11AM (#12431952) Homepage
          A newspaper is not an RSS aggregator. Discovering, investigating, organizing, and reporting news is neither easy nor free; there's a reason "journalism" is a full-time profession. Whether you think it's worth it or not is a different question, but don't pretend the cost is zero.
    • by johnjay ( 230559 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:50AM (#12431220)
      The NYTimes is in a difficult position.

      If they charge for subscription, they are in danger of losing a vast portion of their readership, and no longer be the paper of record (well, they may still be the Paper of Record, but the distinction won't be important. They will no longer be the News Source of Record). They are competing with AP, Reuters and the BBC in this realm, all of which will continue to pump out all the international news anyone could hope for.

      If the NYTimes hopes to justify the expense by touting it's higher-quality product, it will have to explain how it's reporting standards are lower then the WSJ and magazines like The Economist, both of which have far better reporting then The Gray Lady.

      The price isn't horrible in the abstract, it's that the paper isn't worth the price. I often consider subscribing to the WSJ at $70/year. It is possible that one of the main reasons I don't subscribe is that the NYTimes is available for free. If the NYTimes starts charging, the result, for me, would probably be a subscription to the WSJOnline.

      So, in order to compete with the WSJ, the NYTimes may be forced to improve it's product. That is not a bad thing, at all. Although it will be a lot of work, the NYTimes has a better chance of reaching a $50/yr value then most other online news sources.
    • Yeah, I can go but a paperback for $7. Sure it costs more, but either way the stories are made up. With a paperback, there's much more reading though.

      (-1 Troll)

  • Well, I for one... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...would pay for it; it's the best news service coming out of America right now.

    English guy.
    • You can not be serious. In recent past several of their journalists have admitted to making up stories and plagiarism. The NYT sucks as a news source. NO wonder they are having revenue problems.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The NY Times is one of the most reputable papers in the US. But, if you want the paper that most foreigners turn to for impartial, unbiased news, check out the Christian Science Monitor. As right-wing as the paper sounds, it is actually quite impartial (this coming from a liberal).
    • ...would pay for it; it's the best news service coming out of America right now.

      I wish I had some mod points, so I could mode this up as Funny! That's the best joke I've heard in months.

  • Correctness (Score:5, Funny)

    by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:13AM (#12430909)
    They should only charge for articles that are true, or where the reporter actually did the work, instead of sitting at home in his flat in Brooklyn smoking dope.
  • volkskrant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bosz ( 621199 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:14AM (#12430919)
    In the Netherlands there are already paid subscribtions for online content of newspapers. For instance the Volkskrant [] offers a subscription for receiving the paper newspaper only on saturday and on weekdays you can watch the articles online.
  • Their best bet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) < minus cat> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:14AM (#12430923) Homepage Journal
    Their best bet would be to offer both. A $2.95/article and $49.99/yr for those who wanted one or the other. If your doing research and need 1 old article, then your best bet is to pay $2.95 for it. But if your researching, say, how common it was for Bush to be mentioned on the front page since he took office, your going to be reading A LOT of articles, and paying 50 bucks is a much better deal.
    • Re:Their best bet (Score:2, Insightful)

      by goldspider ( 445116 )
      "If your doing research and need 1 old article, then your best bet is to pay $2.95 for it."

      And you would identify that 1 'right' article you need how? By paying $2.95*n until you find it?

      Perhaps that works if you already know which article you're looking for, but I don't think 'research' often works that way.

  • Library? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 )
    Why should I pay? How about I just goto the library and pull out the article I am looking for in their microfilm/microfiche archive? Even small Universities have those going all the way back to the 1890's, as do most libraries.
    • Re:Library? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wow, library? I'd rather pay the fifty bucks...
    • Re:Library? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AviLazar ( 741826 )
      Libraries at Universities generally pay for those articles, the university gets this money from tuition, alumni, the gov't. So you are essentially paying for this serive anyhow (if you are getting a scholarship then that is paying for it).

      But you are attending a university - most people are not currently attending a university - so this service would be more valuable to them.

      As for your comments about most libraries having microfilm/fiche going back to the 1890's - well I would need numbers to beli
    • Libraries pay for those archives. You pay for the libraries with your tax dollars.

      Your question should be, "Why should I pay for these services twice?"

      And the answer is, you can choose to pay the source directly, or you can pay for it indirectly and put up with the inconvenience of having to go to your library and work with microfiche rather than surfing their website from the comfort of your own home. If that's worthwhile to you, then paying might be in your interest.

      For most people, I suspect that it
    • by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:47AM (#12431199) Homepage
      Why should I pay? How about I just goto the library and pull out the article

      One of these people who's time is worthless. For the rest of us, spending $50 for 1 year's access is a better deal than spending an hours time going to the library for an article.
      • Windows, actually. Soon to be Mac, but that is way OT.

        Actually, easiest way is to look the articles up online using the NYT's own search function, then go to the microfilm/fiche section and pull those reals and look them up. As for the time, I drive by the library periodically anyway to the grocery store. I might as well just stop in and look them up. It's not like it's out of the way for me.

        As for my time being worthless? I value my time very much. Which is why I can wait till I pass by the library
    • Most Libraries are in the process of getting rid of their Microfilm archives. By "getting rid of" I mean they are literally throwing them in the dumpster, as they take up space, and they can get them electronically. Yes they are paying for them several times over (once for print, once for Microfilm, and now for online databases). It's a terrible thing, but anyway.

      Nearly all public/college/university libraries will allow you to access their databases even if you are not a student there, so the idea of ch
  • Here's my deal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I live in the DC area, so the Washington Post is my big local paper. I subscribe to the Sunday edition (its like $10 for 10 weeks). All I really want is the "bag o' stuff" that comes with it, full of ads, comics, Parade, etc. The rest of the paper I prefer to read online. I wish they'd give me an option of paying for the bag of stuff. I don't mind supporting them, but I don't want to create the waste of me having a physical paper I don't want to read.

    So Washington Post people, if you read this, and yo
    • I'm in the same area as you. I agree with you on that. Seems like the only thing I read from them is the Sunday Comics and the computer store adds. Seeing as this is how they make their money, I wonder why they won't do just that?
  • but does the world work like that any longer? I mean, domain experts and reporters all in one place? under one roof, under one set of political control, beliefs, and political slant? Spewing News at you through their brand of trumpet?

    Or, is News ala Carte from here on out and they just have not fell over yet? (despite the WWJ success; people look for familiar, for the short term.)
  • by grqb ( 410789 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:18AM (#12430953) Homepage Journal
    All these subscriptions at the same time as online advertising is on the rise...or at least so the Economist says it is []. Advertising revenues by Google and Yahoo are predicted to rival the combined prime-time ad revenues of America's three big television networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. And the NY Times uses google ads, so if google ads are making cash, then the NY Times is also probably making cash from those google ads...I guess just not enough. Nothing's ever enough though.
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <.ardrake79. .at.> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:19AM (#12430954) Homepage
    ...for them to get it right.

    First of all, the $2.95 per article is nuts. That plan should be DOA.

    Now think of how much it costs them to print millions of pages of dead-tree copies of their newspaper. There is enormous potential for the NYT to cut costs by switching (not entirely, of course) to a web/subscription content delivery model. Not to mention the positive effect such a move would have on the environment.

    For a 'progressive' press mogul like the NYT, a leaner, greener newspaper makes sense.
    • There is enormous potential for the NYT to cut costs by switching (not entirely, of course) to a web/subscription content delivery model.

      Some newspapers have already done this. Few problems, however. First, some charge more for the online edition than the print edition. Second, it takes time to download and find what you want. Plus, some don't let you download and 'keep' the paper (like you can be clipping out an article). Third, Bandwidth costs may actually be higher than the printing costs.

      One mor
    • is enormous potential for the NYT to cut costs by switching (not entirely, of course) to a web/subscription content delivery model

      You, my friend, obviously do not work in the northeastern part of the country...

      If you did, you would know that a VAST number of people ride the train/subway to work every morning, and depend upon the paper editions of the NYT/WSJ to have something to do on that hour ride into work in the morning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:19AM (#12430956)
    The best way to do this is via a google (or microsoft) micropayment system. Sort of like millicent .. except it's not as intrusive and is integrated with google desktop and internet explorer. Instead of having to fill out a form and address everytime .. a user can have a monthly limit of $25 (this limit can be by the broker themselves since they dont want to be over liable .. they can also restrict that companies or individuals cant get paid more than a certain amount from any one individual .. other anti fraud schemes will also be needed) .. anyway .. the point is that with a IE or google desktop integrated micropayment system .. it should be possible for individuals to sell music, tv shows, movies and other stuff. There needs to be an Open DRM standard though .. or musicians won't play along. Maybe the standard can be haxx0red or whatever .. thats inevitable .. but the casual/easy copying has to be made difficult in order to encourage people to actually reward the artists of songs or tv programs they like.
  • Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `'> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:19AM (#12430957) Homepage

    These guys are dumber than dirt.

    Why charge at all for outdated content? Don't they remember the old journalistic saying that today's news is tomorrow's fishwrap?

    Put the archives up for free -- that way people will link into them and pump up the Times' search-engine juice. Then sell context sensitive advertising on the old stories a la Google AdWords. Hell, the Times has an entire ad staff -- they could come up with their own contextual-ads program, cut out Google, and keep all the money for themselves. And advertisers would pay a pretty penny to get placed -- you don't think a spot on a NYT story about bicycles, say, would be attractive to a bicycle manufacturer? Especially if that story wasn't behind a paywall, so it got enough Google-juice to get pumped up to the first page of search results for "bicycles"?

    I bet they'd make an order of magnitude more money that way than they ever would off selling subscriptions to the archives...

    • Re:Idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Evil Adrian ( 253301 )
      Why charge at all for outdated content? Don't they remember the old journalistic saying that today's news is tomorrow's fishwrap?

      If people are accessing it...

      LexisNexis makes a fortune charging for access to their gigantic database of outdated content... why shouldn't NYT try to get a piece of the pie?
    • Re:Idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

      by telbij ( 465356 )
      Why charge at all for outdated content? Don't they remember the old journalistic saying that today's news is tomorrow's fishwrap?

      You've got a good idea there, but you have to remember that these guys are scared shitless of losing their revenue streams. As the print subscriptions (and advertising revenue) inevitably decline, they want something familiar to be in control off. They already do web advertising, so the actual quantities they could increase their google juice and web revenue is a big scary que
    • Re:Idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:42AM (#12431148) Journal
      that way people will link into them and pump up the Times' search-engine juice.

      You meant to say "pump up the Times' bandwidth costs" right?

      But you had it right with regards to advertisements - which according to the Times (I had a tour there two years ago) most of their revenue is ad generated not subscriber generated.

      But the next question to ask - would you adblock those ads saying how "evil it is to post those ads on my screen. Things should be free, and this advertising is pushing stuff on my computer. Why are they not paying me for my bandwidth." I seem to recall a few posters like this within the past week.
      • But the next question to ask - would you adblock those ads saying how "evil it is to post those ads on my screen. Things should be free, and this advertising is pushing stuff on my computer. Why are they not paying me for my bandwidth." I seem to recall a few posters like this within the past week.

        This is one of the inherant problems with the subscription vs advertising model used at the moment. There is an assumption that people who don't want to pay for content won't mind advertisements.
        But, seeing

      • But the next question to ask - would you adblock those ads saying how "evil it is to post those ads on my screen. Things should be free, and this advertising is pushing stuff on my computer.

        People only block ads that are annoying and non-useful. That's why the key is following Google's lead and making the ads useful. Context-sensitive ads are useful; punch-the-monkey is not.

    • Re:Idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DoorFrame ( 22108 )
      I bet they'd make an order of magnitude more money that way than they ever would off selling subscriptions to the archives...

      Well, the Wall Street Journal is making tens of millions (up to possibly $55 million if none of their online users also buy the paper version) with their archive. I'll assume that the NYT people would like to make something similar. Do you really think that context-based ads on old newspaper stories can match $55 million per year? It's a big chunk of income.

      Also keep in mind tha
      • Re:Idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vo0k ( 760020 )
        Except Wall Street Journal past articles are usually more valuable. There's two kinds of data, one that goes outdated really fast, becoming useless really fast, and the kind that adds to the "knowledge base", making the total sum of knowledge more valuable. Usually "flash news" and "forecasts" where shallow memes and unconfirmed info is passed just to keep you "standing by" for more, later, is pretty worthless, except of the sentimental value. On the other hand, in-depth articles lose very little over time.
      • Do you really think that context-based ads on old newspaper stories can match $55 million per year?

        I dunno, do you think context-based ads shoehorned onto search engine result pages can match $55 million per year? A quick perusal of Google's SEC filing [] indicates that they pulled in $293 million from AdWords in just one three-month quarter last year (Q1 2004).

        Let me say that again: In one quarter, their ads pulled in more than 500% of what the WSJ earned from subscriptions all year.

        So, do I think

      • The WSJ is making tens of millions with their archive

        I wonder how many people subscribe to the WSJ online for today's articles and how many subscribe for the archive. I've had a subscription for several years but almost never search the archive.

        I might pay for a NYT online subscription, but probably not as much as the WSJ charges, and I probably wouldn't use the NYT's archives any more than I do the WSJ's.

        If I were interested in the archives, $50 for all I can eat would tempt me more than $2.95 pe

    • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @02:09PM (#12433679) Journal
      You know, I took you seriously until I read the first sentence of your post. The guys who run the New York Times are dumber than dirt?
      I bet they'd make an order of magnitude more money that way than they ever would off selling subscriptions to the archives...
      Yeah, I'm sure their accountants haven't done any research at all into what will make them more money. They surely should take the advice of some random joe on Slashdot, who I'm sure owns at least two or three national newspapers, and knows what he's talkin' about.
  • Circuit Cellar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:20AM (#12430966) Journal
    I pay for a subscription to Circuit Cellar online and every month I get to download a PDF of the actual magazine. I wish every publication would do this as it is very convenient and doesn't clutter up my house.

  • by Acoustic ( 875187 )
    What does this imply about internet advertising? Do paid subscribers also get ads along with the online content? This seems like another indication that on-line ads may not pay out.
  • Reasonable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky ( 799199 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:23AM (#12430992)
    I see this as completely reasonable.

    I feel like news outlets almost have a civic responsibility to have (at least some level of) news for free for the masses just for the sake of keeping various entities "in check" --mainly government and business.

    However, at some point news at a week old isnt "news" anymore. Think about the majority of the types of people that need archived news articles -- researchers, other news writers, authors, statisticians etc. In my opinion these type of people who work for other companies or work for other interests and whose existence piggybacks at least a little bit on news articles that are archived should pay their fair share. I don't see too many private citizen's need to access archieved news.

    Also, one should view this as a exponential growing cost of bandwidth and storage space for archived articles (especially for the NYTimes with a hundred years of history and the sheer amount of content that they have) not necessarily as a main revenue stream for breaking news.
    But thats just my $0.02
  • by sellin'papes ( 875203 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:23AM (#12430994) Homepage
    The trend with the New York Times is to charge as much money for access to their information that they can get. It is even expensive to get access to the archives now.

    This is worrying because the NYT is considered one of the 'most reputable' newspapers in the world. For example: I do a bit of work for The Center for Cooperative Research []. This is an open source website that is designed to create timelines about US politics by following news stories. To make the timelines as 'legitimate' as possible, we are encouraged to use NYT articles. Now that public access is restricted, it is making it more difficult for this open source project to continue with broad 'legitimacy'.

    • In my mind one of the main reasons that the NYT is one of the most reputable papers is that a lot of the content is well written and solidly researched original content that addresses a variety of issues. Most local papers these days seem to do nothing more than put together a few self produced fluff pieces combined with a bunch of wire stories borrowed from the AP, or thinly disguised press releases.
      If you are doing research on US politics or foreign affairs the NYT is a solid resource. Unfortunately, the
    • This is worrying because the NYT is considered one of the 'most reputable' newspapers in the world.

      (cough) Jayson Blair (cough)

  • Screw that, 9.99 or even 19.99 might be feasable. But for 49.99 I could get a lot of things. And current news via the ineternet isn't that hard to find without the NYT.
  • by jayrtfm ( 148260 ) <(moc.tnohpos) (ta) (hsalsj)> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:25AM (#12431008) Homepage Journal
    If you have a NYC public library card you can access the past year for free via []
  • by mr. mulder ( 204001 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:25AM (#12431009)
    I'll just search Google News and then reference the cache.
  • "...$49.99 for unlimited access to anything in the last year"

    I would be a bit more inclined to pay for a news service, if I had access to an archive that could go back a little further than a year.
  • But wouldn't the past articles be avaliable at your local library for free? I mean, if you really wanted to read NYT and do not have the additional means, going to your good old library is a possible solution. I think I remember what they look like...lots of books, newspaper organizers.....
  • In other news: Bob, local postman and fishing buff, will be stopping by the Piggly-Wiggly at 4pm EST to pick up milk. He will procede immediately home. Rumors that Bob would be at Pop's Tavern were quickly denounced by Bob. He assures us he will indeed be purchasing milk and then going home. Back to you in the studio, Jane!
  • by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:34AM (#12431074)
    This seem like a giant leap backward to me. Everything I've ever read seems to suggest that micropayments are the way forward (pay for what you use - hell, I'd certainly like it), and here the NYT are moving to a less granular pricing model.

    Subscriptions are stupid, because unless you're going to use $50/year you aren't going to bother taking out a subscription, and will instead go elsewhere. Subscriptions force you to make a choice: am I "A NYT Subscriber" or not? If I'm just dropping by the NYT site (eg, from a random newsblog link), I'm not going to fork out a $50.00 subscription to view a single article. Could I view that same single article for, say, $0.25, I'd happily pay it.

    Affordable (and truly micro) micropayments allow you to use what you want, when you want, so you can "impulse-buy" information however you want. Subscriptions force you to enter into a long-term commitment, and as such will be avoided liek the plague by everyone apart from those who likely *already* have a NYT subscription (a much smaller subset of users).

    Ok, $3.00 per article is hardly micropayments, but if I were NYT I'd be looking to move towards MPs, rather than away from them. It does look like they're confusing "overpricing their content" with "the failure of their whole approach".
  • by Caractacus Potts ( 74726 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:34AM (#12431079)
    The numbers are in the right ballpark. I pay $35/yr to get access to all of their current and archived crosswords and puzzles. I have no problem paying this amount since I consider it to be of value to me. If you don't consider their week-old online content to be worth X dollars, don't pay them X dollars.
  • by racecarj ( 703239 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:39AM (#12431113)
    With the NYTimes vast news archive they have the potential to be one of the best sources of past and current news via google.

    Remember, google is based on linking. Right now, no one links to the NYTimes unless it's today's article. If they allowed free access to their entire past archive, people would be posting links all the time (ex, an anti-Bush site would have a series of links about him from the past few years). This would translate into advertising revenue for the Times and more internet clout in general.

    The way they've set it up now, this doesn't exist. And I don't believe there is a big market for paying for old news (not that big anyway). Students and researchers use libraries, people at home use Wikipedia or whatever.

    The NYTimes should be working to be THE information news resource of world events.
  • who is stupid? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:39AM (#12431121)
    Here Finland, we have a saying:

    It's not the person who asks who is stupid. It's the person who pays.
  • It's still backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechnicalPenguin ( 723245 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:39AM (#12431123) Homepage

    In the offline world, newspapers and magazines charge for the current issues while the archives are freely available through libraries. Why should it be reversed in the online world?

    It's completely backwards to make the current week free and the archives Pay-per-view or subscription-only. It makes much more sense to charge a subscription to the current news (whether to access the current day, the current week, or the current month), and make the older stuff freely available. First of all, there's a lot more people interested in today's news than in last year's news, meaning revenues would be higher. (That means more money for the low IQers in the audience.) It fits in line with the offline business model. It meets the customer's expectations better. And it makes the whole site more Internet-friendly.

    Frankly, I don't understand why more sites don't follow that plan. Charge for access to the current week (the most valuable content on your site on any given day) and, after that, let the bloggers and everyone else have at it for free.

  • 15203&tid=98&tid=95&tid=17 []

    Once again, something that Something Awful [] (at least their forum archives) has already been doing. Nothing new here.
  • by Future Linux-Guru ( 34181 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:43AM (#12431151)
    Whenever I see an article that grabs my interest, I print make a PDF copy of it, and then later on I send it to my gmail account with meaning description in the subject line.

    Not perfect, but perfectly workable for most.
  • Busking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by el_womble ( 779715 )

    It strikes me that the internet is like street performance. You make a noise. If people like the noise you should provide a simple system for people to provide a small sum of money.

    Surely this is the business model that should be adopted by the arts on the internet. People already earn a living busking, and thats just performing on a busy high street, with the internet there is the potential to busk to the world.

    Accountants may hate this model, but with the huge variety of GDPs and age ranges that have ac

  • Why would I pay for any NY Times news story when I can get the same story direct from the source [] for free.
  • The problem is they want a single subscription option, which is wrong. I'm not going to pay $50 for a single article I wanted to read but missed. I won't pay $2.50/article if I'm performing a summary research, requiring me to analyse 5000 different articles. Maybe a year back is not enough for me? Maybe it's way too much, as I want to make some monthly digests?

    A good range of options is a reasonable choice. Another reasonable choice is "pay per kilobyte" with bulk discounts. A single $50/unlimited access o
  • So, will the NYT also charge fishmongers selling their wares in old newspaper?
  • This will be one of the last gasps for air from the dieing corpse. Media delivery, content, and useage is dramaticly changing. The old line will fail and the new will emerge.

    However, this is not new news. But it is on all the new and old media, including this one.

    The big question, and the new news, is how these giants re-invent them selves and become the new giants, and whether or not they are able to. That is the real story.
  • Fifty dollars for only the last year is far too steep. For $50/year, I'd want online access to the entire archives of the NYT back to the beginning.
  • by Mean_Nishka ( 543399 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:13AM (#12431428) Homepage Journal
    The New York Times has digitized every edition from 1851 to 2001. It's searchable and instead of printing up some plain 'ol text, you see the actual article in PDF as it appeared when published. It's incredible stuff and would be well worth an annual fee for history buffs.
  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caffeine_monkey ( 576033 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:30AM (#12431558)

    I hope they can make a go of it.

    Everyone is a monday morning quarterback when it comes to journalism, but what most people don't realize is that good journalism is hard. Like, really hard. Exhausting. The workflow of a journalist is: conceive of story; research story, find sources, interview sources; write story. You do this independently, usually with little or no help from your editor. If you're in the news department, you do this in one day, sometimes multiple times in a day. And you repeat this every day you're at work. It's really, really hard, and lots of people burn out.

    This is a little bit like a manager saying to a coder, "Can you build me a killer app? How long will that take - a few days maybe?" No matter what people on the sidelines think of the profession, getting into the NY Times means being a journalist at the top of your game. They should be paid well, and the paper has every right to generate revenue in whatever way they can.

  • I'd go halfsies... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:41AM (#12431652)
    Online for up to half the cost of the print medium (7-day in-city subscription rate), and here's why:

    I can only get delivery at $3/week sunday only - that's $150 per year for one day a week's paper.

    They have to put the whole thing online somewhere anyway, that's how newspapers are made today (I still like to think it's Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell doing it all at high volume, but alas...) They've already paid the mortgage on the infrastructure, the part of it that makes things public html costs not as much as all of the tech they need in order to get the paper out every day. This is a lot like the phone companies cutting prices once everyone saw the internet model and realized that they didn't have to run a special/new wire from my house in CT to so-and-so in CA so we could talk. They don't have to wake someone up to create a web page just because I logged on.

    They won't get a lot of people who are online-y to cart a pile of paper home no matter how attractive they seem to make it. (and "attractive" seems to mean raise the out of town prices to horriffic levels - how come USAToday costs the same all over the country but NYT seems to be delivered outside of NYC by gold-plated burros who eat caviar? Hint - distributed printing)

    So I'll (and lots like me'll) will get their news online somewhere, but not at paper-based prices and weights.

    They'll have me at up to half subscription rate. There's a sweet spot there somewhere. It's fair, it's not the smug "information wants to be free" half of the argument. Maybe it's a mexican standoff, but they won't get me at print, and I can get news lots of places for free.
  • by urdine ( 775754 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:27AM (#12432102)

    The Slashdot "info should be free" crowd is dead wrong on this. Certainly that would be best for YOU the consumer, but not best for NYT, which is point of the article. There is no reason to make the archives free since the paper itself is already free.

    Who is their audience? Researchers who are generally looking for one specific article, and people who need the resources often. I think they should do both plans, and probably more - a monthly plan, a subscription to just one section (like "Business section" for $15 a year), etc. But I think the single articles will sell more, at around a 4 to 1 ratio to subscriptions.

    Remember also the unlimited year pass is just for the previous year. NYT has quite lucrative contracts with Lexis Nexus and others which obviously makes them good money and obviously charges a steep amount for access. They might not even be legally able to "go free" with the archives depending on their contracts.

  • Here's a thought... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:36AM (#12432193) Homepage Journal
    I can see an interesting side effect coming up if NYT decides to do this, especially at the cost figure they're proposing.

    Specifically, I could see a move like this being a shot in the arm for public libraries, especially if it sparks other newspapers and news agencies to do it.

    Consider: You could either pay the fee and access the thing from your home system, or you can exert a little effort and hit up your local public library. Access to the same material would (likely) be at no extra cost to you. Heck, you wouldn't even have to pay for gas if you took public transit.

    Even if, for some reason, you still need Internet access, many libraries have free wireless. The Seattle main (downtown) library, as one example, has both wired and wireless [] Internet access available at no charge to its patrons (note that VPN only works if you use Cisco LEAP or Microsplatt's PPTP).

    Keep the peace(es).

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.