Will You Pay for Your News?

Whether or not this has been a long time in coming, the time has come – the New York Times has announced that it will be charging for “frequent” access to its website. Visitors will be able to view a certain number of articles each month for free, after which they can pay a flat fee for unlimited access; this change is slated to occur in January 2011.

The goal here is apparently “to create a system that would have little effect on the millions of occasional visitors to the site, while trying to cash in on the loyalty of more devoted readers.” Of course, they haven’t decided the specifics yet, like how much you can get for free and how much you’ll have to pay when that runs out. This is a step that other large media outlets have been dancing around for a while now, ever since the “death of print media” seemed to be lurking just around the corner, and NYT needs to get this exactly right, or they’re really going to be in a mess.

You may recall that a few years ago NYT charged for online content, and it didn’t work so well; they nixed that in the hopes that advertising dollars through high readership would make up the difference, but that model hasn’t performed to their expectations. Of course, the Wall Street Journal still charges for unlimited access; whether that has hurt them or not, I couldn’t say.

Putting aside the issue of whether bloggers are to blame for professional journalism’s financial woes, considering how things simply are, how many people really are willing to pay for their news? Is the trusted brand of New York Times or Wall Street Journal worth a subscription fee? Do you think you’d be in the group of “frequent” readers who would max out your allotted free access?  What would you be willing to pay? Or would you just prefer to get your news from whatever outlets are left that don’t charge?

[Image Source: Flickr (CC)]

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5 Responses to Will You Pay for Your News?

  1. I won't pay for something I can get for free. The reason the Wall Street Journal can survive behind a paywall is that a lot of businesses pay for it, and even if they don't, it can often be considered a business expense. That's not true of the NY Times. I love the Times (though I think their standards have fallen over the past few years), but I won't pay for it. Worse yet, I won't link to it either, because I'll never know if my friends and followers have reached their monthly read limit. Sorry NY Times, but you are removing yourself from the online conversation.

    A better model would have been to give the content for free, and to charge for special features (like maybe expanded book reviews, more movie reviews, maybe some original source material, etc, etc).

  2. I suppose it's old-fashioned of me, but yeah, I'm still willing to pay for some news. I'm not all that impressed with bloggers as a source of news – especially world or financial news – the stuff I use to make money.

    As a long time reader of WSJ, I have to say they're probably my favorite paper. I don't currently pay for online access b/c I think it's redundant and it's not always convenient to be on my computer; but a tablet might change that for me, as I'd much rather have it compact and portable (but bigger than my iPhone), rather than in newspaper format.

    Revamp the "traditional" newspapers to make them compelling electronic reading, and people will buy them. The big news companies have the money to put out a product no blogger can hope to match – they just need to hire some talent and get their heads around the fact that print media is fading away.

  3. I'll happily pay for well-done content, but only if the margins aren't so full of bouncing "LOOKATMELOOKATME!!!" ads that I can't focus on what I'm trying to read. I read both the AP feed and NYT on my iPhone. Viewed side-by-side, the Times is far superior. The writers and editors add real value, and that's worth paying for.

    Maybe that's an advantage of e-ink displays: no animated ads.

  4. i just canceled my local paper. 95% of their content was AP rehash that i probably saw online. The local news is boring, not in-depth reviews of local politics. The sports is good but the press aren't connected to give me anything i dont get in 5 minutes on the multitude or sports channels or websites.

    If the news media went back to REAL journalism, real investigations, real stories i would pay for and read it. I don't need rehashes of AP facts with unintelligent side comments. If i want expanded thoughts and opinions i can pick up the economist or other similar mags.

    I think the demise of newsprint is they forgot to get the story. They hire great writers but not great writers with a great background of understanding on the topics they cover. The editors don't have the background in every topic the newspaper covers so too much junk gets by.

    I am also shocked at the amount of times I see HUGE spelling and grammar mistakes. How about sentences that start with AND or BUT. I am not perfect but its not my job to be – its the newsprint medias and too often the product is rushed and of a low quality.

    I think QUALITY is the key. Maybe there isn't enough news to print a daily paper any more. Maybe they should focus on the right stories, skip the filler.

    These are my opinions, and I can accept them being wrong for some people. In Canada Canwest media has given up producing quality. If they ever get back to a high level of standards I would come back in any pay model.