New York Times to Introduce Digital Paywall on March 28th
Under the plan, users will be able to read 20 articles per month at no charge. Once they click on the 21st piece, however, they'll be presented with three payment options: $15 for four weeks
Today's announcement comes nearly two months after rumors of an impending paywall first surfaced, when sources close to Times' chairman Arthur J. Sulzberger confirmed that the paper was looking to charge for online content.
In his annual 'State of the Times' address, Sulzberger acknowledged that the paper may face challenges with its new approach to digital content, but seemed confident that the strategy would pay dividends.
"This move is an investment in our future," he said. "It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to support the continuation of our journalistic mission and digital innovation, while maintaining our large and growing audience to support our robust advertising business. And this system is our latest, and best, demonstration of where we believe the future of valued content - be it news, music, games or more - is going."
Though other papers have introduced "freemium" plans similar to the one unveiled today, no U.S. news organization as large as the Times has ever attempted to erect a paywall after giving readers free access to online content. And, as newspapers continue to see dwindling revenues from ads and subscriptions, the Times' paywall experiment will be closely monitored.
Ken Doctor, an author specializing in the newspaper business, says the industry is entering a "do-or-die" period, following a year in which American newspapers saw a 6.3-percent decline in advertising revenues. "The financial pressures on newspapers is steady or increasing," Doctor told the Times. "They're in an industry that is still receding. Newspapers are trying to pay down their debt, but they have fewer resources to do it. They're very cash-flow constricted."
Sulzberger seems well aware of the obstacles that lie before his company. "The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network," he said, adding that the Times must "continue to engage with the widest possible audience."