The Times They Are A-Chargin'

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The New York Times announced yesterday that it will begin to charge online for some content early next year. Gabriel Sherman, contributing editor to New York magazine, discusses the decision and what it means for the greater media landscape.

Will you pay to read The Times online? Comment below!


Gabriel Sherman

Comments [45]

Steph from Brooklyn

Speaking as a former "electronic" librarian, I wanted to remind folks that back in the day (waay back, 25 years ago), one *had* to pay for this type of information via such services as Lexis/Nexis, Dialog, BRS and the like. The advent of the Web brought with it the idea that content should be free, but like all things, you often get what you pay for. The effort, rigor and resources required to create great journalism cost money, and journalists deserve to be paid.

I have no objection to subscribing to the Times - I subscribe to several other content-rich sites, because they offer value to me. I would hope that the Times will offer a cross-channel approach to subscriptions, so that customers pay a single flat fee no matter how they access NYT content - web, iPhone, print, etc. Having a micropayment (per use) option would likely also be valuable to occasional users.

Jan. 21 2010 12:07 PM
Nick from NYC

Actually, I might become a paper subscriber, for delivery, to have the total package of paper and online access.... BUT... there delivery is just too unreliable! My paper would just be left in the lobby and stolen/lost/dunked in water, not dropped off in front of my apt.

Perhaps NYT should re-examine its delivery services?

Jan. 21 2010 12:01 PM
Linda Pleven from Manhattan

I love The New York Times and can't begin to contemplate the world without it, and will pay whatever they ask. We would never give up buying the NYT every day, but we are finally thinking of subscribing rather than continuing our lovely ritual of going out to "buy the paper."

That said, I have also fallen head over heels in love with the Times's website. It's the best, and is overflowing with content that I don't get in the print edition. There are very good reasons why they won the Peabody Award. And, yes, I'll pay for it.

Jan. 21 2010 12:01 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

If the Times wants to be a "global paper of record," it's going to have to do a helluva lot better on international reporting, especially on the Middle East.

The Times totally screwed the pooch on Iraq, Iran. It's been a systematic pro-Israel propagandist on Israel and Palestine for 40 years. Judith Miller is just an extreme example of the deplorable state of Times Mideast reporting. It's recent coverage of China has been terrible.

Domestically, the Times is consistently anti-Labor. It utterly failed on the Wall Street crimes. We know that at least one whistle-blower directly informed the Times of problems and the Times ignored him.

No problem with paying, but they need to do better than be a mouthpiece for the US government.

Jan. 21 2010 11:59 AM
Stephanie from Msanhattan

Absolutely would pay. Stopped subscription because it was too much wasted paper. Online I can get what I want. Am willing to pay to keep them journalistically independent.

Jan. 21 2010 11:59 AM
Ted In Atlanta from Design Department

Yes we'd most of us hearing you be willing to pay - BUT - this is because you are speaking to a self-selecting audience. We already pay for NPR even though it's free.

Jan. 21 2010 11:58 AM
Dorothy from Chelsea

Subscribers get on-line access -- it's in the Times announcement. (Even if only Sunday.) It was true with Times Select too, which, btw, was heavily subscribed.

Too bad you couldn't scare up any angry folks, Brian. It seems you stumbled upon a bunch of grown-ups.

Jan. 21 2010 11:58 AM
Dan from New York

Guess what will happen if articles are free via Google: you'll have a website or service that scans in every headline, every column each day and makes that available for free to anyone.

I believe I should pay for the Times online, it's a fantastic resource that must be supported, so I wonder what will happen.

Jan. 21 2010 11:58 AM
Carol from Brooklyn, NY

Would there be different tiers for weekend or full-week subscribers? How small would the minimum be for subscriptions to transfer to the web and would there be any way to provide credits to those who buy at newstands (a code etc.?)

Jan. 21 2010 11:58 AM
Yukari Sakamoto from NYC/Tokyo

I subscribe to the NYT when I live in NYC, but when I am in Tokyo I prefer going online. Hope that it is possible to keep digital version free for international access.

Jan. 21 2010 11:57 AM
BrettG from Astoria

I already pay $49.95 for Premium Crosswords. Then I get the paper online for "free." If they don't charge me any more to continue puzzles & paper, fine.

Jan. 21 2010 11:57 AM
K. Shelton from Bushwick

I will not pay - and will be happy to go elsewhere for my online news.

Jan. 21 2010 11:57 AM
Ivy from Brooklyn

Also paper subscribers should read it online free.

Jan. 21 2010 11:57 AM
Ivy from Brooklyn

I think it would be a great idea if the Times rolled out a card similar to the iTunes card where you prepay the card and use it as you read the articles, columns or do the crossword.

Jan. 21 2010 11:56 AM
Eric from brooklyn

i am hearing a persistent misapprehension of newspapers' troubles recapitulated on your show--readers accessing free content online is part of the problem, yes, but dwindling subscriptions and newsstand sales are partly offset by reduced printing and delivery costs. the real problem facing newspapers is the drying up of advertising and classifieds revenue due to the advent of sites such as craigslist and ebay...not to mention the homogenization and consolidation of local papers as they've been bought up by conglomerates. we need to understand what brought on the newspaper crisis if we hope to save newspapers.

Jan. 21 2010 11:55 AM
Connie from NJ

Now that I've gotten used to reading the Times online, I would definitely pay, say $10/month, to have unlimited access. I would feel better knowing that the Times is more likely to stay in business this way.

Jan. 21 2010 11:55 AM
Sadie from Manhattan

What about paying for the app?

Jan. 21 2010 11:55 AM
Charl from NJ

As a subscriber to the print edition I think i should be allowed to get a free online subscription... those who don't buy the paper edition should pay. Double paying is not the solution for subscribers.

Jan. 21 2010 11:55 AM
Sadie from Manhattan

I think it's a great idea. I don't subscribe to the New York Times but read it on my iphone everyday and have a sense of guilt about "stealing" it. Please let us pay for the great service that is provided.

Jan. 21 2010 11:54 AM

What about the iphone app??

Google will be the backdoor around it.

Also everyone is advocating paying for papers and info they should also pay for music and movies that are currently downloaded illegally.

Jan. 21 2010 11:54 AM
Lynn Decker from Staten Island, NY

I would pay for a full online subscription for the NY Times. It is so important to have valid journalism in this country, and I believe that as a citizen, I have to do my part to maintain our 4th arm of the government, "The Press", even if it's not free. Sign me up!

Jan. 21 2010 11:53 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn, NY

I would definitely pay for the Times; it always struck me as odd that it was free. How else can staff get paid if the content is free?

How much would I pay? A set fee per week or month, comparable to print subscriptions.

Jan. 21 2010 11:53 AM
thad davis from kendrick, idaho

I'm retired and live on a very low income. The Times has been my home page for nearly 15 years, but I'm afraid I would not be able to justify the expense.


Jan. 21 2010 11:53 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

What will happen to the excellent and extensive NYT archives that can be used online? Will we pay for that too?

Jan. 21 2010 11:53 AM from White Plains, NY

I am a subscriber and recently tried to change my subscription (and pay) to receive on-line ONLY. This is not possible. Instead paper copies pile up to be put in the recycle bin.

Jan. 21 2010 11:53 AM
rosemary from upper west side

i get paid for my writing; i do not begrudge NY Times. But if I pay, can I NOT see those ads, please?

Jan. 21 2010 11:52 AM
adsf from

LOVE IT! The higher the barrier of entry to financial and/or geopolitical information, the better it is for me.

as a trader unknown or under-known information translates to more money i can make. i can ride a single bit of underreported information for a couple days, maybe even my monthly nut.

as an investor, the free internet really crushed the model of investors trading for a few hours a day based on privileged information. It has gotten much better in recent years as newspapers became almost worthless in this regard, w the times, ft and wsj being the exceptions.

Jan. 21 2010 11:51 AM
Elizabeth from Brooklyn

I'd be happy to pay. Why should it be free?

Jan. 21 2010 11:50 AM
Bill D. from Staten Island

I will miss getting the NYT for free, but I it must be done in order to protect the journalism. I do not want the grey lady the become a sensationalist headline hot pink lady!
I think that they should charge a fee and be able to acess the print, online and iphone apps.

Jan. 21 2010 11:50 AM
Chriss from NJ

As a long time reader and subscriber, I switched to the Times on my Kindle.

And while not the full Times, it's perfect and better for the environment.

My eyes glaze over reading it on the computer because unlike other sites, I read everything in the Times.

The problem with the subscription model is WILL the Times become irrelevant and out of the discussion, much like it's columnist did after Times Select.

Jan. 21 2010 11:50 AM
gowanna from gowanus

the economist costs close to $100 a year and is one of the best news magazines out there.
13 [bob] + 14 [HarrisG from Astoria] are the reason why more and more corporate interests are gaining the upper hand and we see 24/7 news coverage abour michael jackson a week after the Iranian elections upheaval - you guys are not seeing the BIG Picture about freedom of the press in the 21st century - you see only your small wallets and even smaller value meals at the local fast food joints!

Jan. 21 2010 11:18 AM
HarrisG from Astoria, NY

They need money to stay in business. I understand that. How much will they charge? I think that if the price point is low enough, plenty of people will sign up. I know that if it's $30/year, I'm on board. If it's $60, maybe not.

Newspapers have fallen on hard times. The building I'm in used to have many copies of the NY Times delivered. Now only two people subscribe. I suspect the online version has more viewers than the paper version. I know that's the way I read it.

Jan. 21 2010 11:08 AM

I will not pay any amount for access to the NYT.

Jan. 21 2010 11:07 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

i already pay for the print edition, and enjoy the access to online content, which is necessary if i want the additional content the NYT teases, or to share stories. i'm happy to pay for online content if i drop daily print delivery, but not an additional charge should the online content be subscription-only. glad that they'd abandoned the timeselect scheme prior--it was clear that they hadn't figured out the model yet, and it was ridiculous to pay for daily print AND archived content.

Jan. 21 2010 11:01 AM
gowanna from gowanus

they are catching up to Rupert but on the right track - currently, they too beholden to giant corporate advertisers - we need our press to be as independent of money interests as possible - in fact, much like the UK/BBC model - our taxes - yes TAXES - should go into doing everything possible to keep our press free of money interests!!
You are late to the game NYTimes, but better late than never.

Jan. 21 2010 11:01 AM
burton from Brooklyn

In structuring their pricing, I hope they understand that the potential number of online subscribers vastly outnumbers that of print subscribers, and thus needn't cost nearly as much. It doesn't seem they understand that at the Journal, where the fee for online access is now 87% the price of a print subscription.

Jan. 21 2010 09:10 AM
Jenn from New Brunswick

I was a paying subscriber a few years ago when they first tried this, and I will subscribe again in 2011.

Didn't their first try at charging fail because of lost advertising opportunities though? What will change this time? Hopefully the subscriptions will be supplemented with tools that encourage reader engagement and interaction - seems like that is what advertisers want lately.

Jan. 21 2010 08:51 AM
RCT from NYC

Because I subscribe to the print edition, I will be able to access the on-line version for free. If I were not already a subscriber, however, I'd be willing to pay a small fee -- let's say $40.00 per year -- to access the Times on line. More than that, and I would probably stay within the "free article" limit -- for Paul Krugman and Frank Rich, e.g. -- and do my surfing on Politico, the BBC, the Guardian and other free internet sources.

Jan. 21 2010 08:30 AM
Sean Murray from Red Hook

Brian, you're one of the most well-informed people I know of--what do YOU think? Will this change the way you consume the Times?

Jan. 21 2010 08:10 AM

No way I will pay for NY Times. Not unless they improve their product and stop treating their readers like they are naive. The stories are so nationalistic. The reporting on Google's failed security (and Chinese marketshare) was so shoddy, all I could think was "This is like WMDs all over again". They obviously haven't changed their ways and I don't want to support them. I'll miss Krugman's gloom and doom analysis but other than that there's nothing Bloomberg and BBC can't cover.

Jan. 21 2010 08:01 AM
Teresa from New York

I use everyday for free and would gladly pay to continue to have access. It's interesting that the Times is talking like a nonprofit though- they provide a service to the community/country but the current economy can't support their service and thus they need readers (i.e. donors) to do their part.

Jan. 21 2010 07:59 AM
Hector from brooklyn

I subscribe to the paper times to come to my door every AM. I barely ever read it. It is like being a member of the Brooklyn Museum, I don't go, but I want to support the institution! It is expensive to cover the news and I want it done right for the times that I do pick up my paper.

Jan. 21 2010 07:48 AM
Robert Donnelly from Montclair, NJ

Well, it's about time. Where do I sign? I subscribed to nytimes on line over a year ago. Then one day, I received a message that the Times was no longer accepting subscriptions and informed me that my access to the Times would be gratis. Huh?

Let me put it this way: I cannot imagine living in the U.S. without the NYT. How is that for hyperbole. The NYT remains the gold standard in my view. The Times institution is in business to make money, it cannot run like a soup kitchen. What a concept!

I am already queued up and ready to pay- just keep it reasonable, please. Times are tough. I don't want my Times to make these days any harder.

Bob Donnelly

Jan. 21 2010 06:52 AM
Barbara Crafton from New Jersey

I absolutely would. It costs money to provide the news and analysis we need.

Jan. 21 2010 05:55 AM
George from Bay Ridge

For me to read the Times online, it would have to be under $20 per year and be ad free.

Jan. 21 2010 12:35 AM

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