03:38 AM

NYT: Charging Ahead (Slowly) - Paywall in 2011

The New York Times (NYT) says it will begin charging for some online content in early 2011.

But executives of The New York Times Company said they could not yet answer fundamental questions about the plan, like how much it would cost or what the limit would be on free reading. They stressed that the amount of free access could change with time, in response to economic conditions and reader demand.

This is hardly a bold move. It smacks of indecision. The NYT should have said "we'll see how Rupert Murdoch fares with his paywalls then we'll copy whatever works."

Jeff Jarvis on Buzz Machine, has been a paid advisor to the NYT. He recently wrote:

They would would end up charging -- and, they should fear, sending away -- the readers who are worth the most while serving free those who are worth least. . .The logic eludes me. So do the economics.

There's nothing wrong with identifying repeat readers but I think the NYT should target frequent readers with offers of subscriptions, bundled with package deals such as half-price MOMA memberships and discounts at Barney's.

Here is the NYT staff memo about the coming paywall:

...our metered model decision is a product of months of vigorous analysis and debate.