The New York Times Loses Control of their Content with a Paywall

Yesterday, I received this email notice from the New York Times that they would, once again, begin charging me for reading their content.

Here’s the strangest part of the email:

Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.

Of course, within hours of the paywall announcement, a new Twitter account was created to guarantee that all NYTimes.com, would remain free if you followed @FreeNYT:

Currently, @FreeNYT has zero tweets, almost 2,000 followers in less than 24 hours and over 200 new followers are being added every ninety minutes.

Frank Rich quit the New York Times to avoid being abandoned behind that paywall, and you can see why when you look at this nonsensical and arcane subscription model the New York Times is trying to push the in the marketplace:

Out of the gate, NYTimes.com gets the subscriptions wrong.  Why punish an iPad user by $5 a month over an iPhone owner?  Is the content somehow that much better on an iPad than an iPhone?  The crazy pricing strata to punish specific digital device ownership proves that NYTimes.com has no clue that they understand anything about how their content is used beyond pulp and ink.  Their paywall scheme is already antiquated and out-of-touch with a reality that will hit them pretty hard in the months to come.

I admit that when I first read those pricing plans, I was pleased, because I thought they were fair — $15 every four months, billed three times a year, that’s only $45 a year — and then I squinted a little harder and saw that $15 price was for every four WEEKS, not months costing $180 a year, not $45! Why not say a MONTH when you’re charging by the month?

If Tweets and blogs can link articles for unlimited free reading by their followers and fans — someone is paying to get full access so the links can be copied and pasted — and that is likely going to be the originator of the link:  The blog author or the Twitter account owner.  The NYTimes.com is limiting their own blanket influence by using paying Tweeters and bloggers to filter NYTimes.com content “for free” to their followers and readers.  That notion immediately makes the NYTimes.com feed biased and out of whack — and that’s the real reason why NYTimes.com should remain free and open.  Let the people pick and choose what they want to read so they can make up their own minds without being strategically filtered and linked by other online outlets with vested interests in skewing NYTimes.com content.

I used to be a TimesSelect subscriber, so when March 28, 2011 falls, I will likely pony up some money to subscribe — but that doesn’t mean I support the paywall — even though I adore NYTimes.com as the publisher of record.  I can love them in spite of their paywall naiveté because I know that wall will fall for freedom again sooner than the NYTimes.com can turn off all the free spigots they unwittingly turned on in a censorship charade masked as a good business decision.

7 comments

  • All paid subscribers get full access digitally, if I am correct in reading this.

    Last Sunday I signed up for a Sunday Only NYT subscription, which will run a little less than ten dollars a month. Seems like an easy way to get the best of both worlds — since Sunday really is the best day to get the Times and it’s $5 on the news stand, ensuring that it only takes two ‘good’ issues to make it worth the subscription.

  • I would probably pay, too, but many won’t. They’ll just go to the Post or Newsday to get their NYC news for free.

    • I think it will be a hard sell as it currently stands, Anne. Now, if the NYTimes gets smart, and if they change their online access policy and if they lower the price — it could be a good source of income for them while not turning off the casual reader.

  • Pingback: When the New York Times Tells You Sunday Means Saturday and Sunday | WordPunk

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