New York Magazine reports that the New York Times is to erect a pay wall sometime in the next several months. The system will be akin to that currently employed by the Financial Times – a limited number of free articles, then you pay.
Will it work? The Times has failed with pay content in the past, but, frankly, that was because the mustache of understanding is just not worth fifty bucks a year (though I do like David Brooks and Paul Krugman). The entire site, however, may be worth about that much to readers. For the record, I’d probably pay around fifty or sixty dollars for a year’s access to nytimes.com. I would not, however, pay a full newspaper subscription fee.
Another issue, though, is how the ‘meter’ will work. Let’s say each reader is allowed two free articles per day. What percentage of visitors to the site read more than that? Can the Times make money off that traffic alone? Will the pay wall discourage those who currently read a lot of the Times’ content from reading it? I like reading the FT, but I’ve never considered paying for it.
In any case, it’s good to see the paper is trying something, and not the half-assed TimesSelect model. I think by now it is quite clear that online advertising does not generate enough revenue on its own to fund a major news organization.