NYT Considering a Pay Model -- Again

NYTlogoInMonitorWithDollarSign.jpgThe newspaper that appears to be on a mission to become Manhattan's quaint little alternative daily is considering a move that would cheer those who prefer fair and balanced reporting accompanied by intellectually honest editorials and op-eds.

That publication, the New York Times, is considering a return to fee-based content -- and this time, it might go for the whole enchilada.

Times Executive Editor Bill Keller dangled the possibility yesterday in an online Q&A.

Bloomberg's Greg Bensinger reported the following (bolds are mine):

New York Times Co. may charge for access to its flagship newspaper’s Web site less than two years after terminating an earlier online-subscription service.

The company is studying whether to start charging for all or some of the content on nytimes.com, as well as other options, Executive Editor Bill Keller said ..... Most of the site is free.

“A lively, deadly serious discussion continues within the Times about ways to get consumers to pay for what we make,” he said. “Really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained -- that stuff wants to be paid for.”

The third-largest U.S. newspaper publisher, which posted a 48 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit, is cutting jobs and selling assets as advertising and circulation dwindle. .....

In 2007, the newspaper scrapped an online-subscription service called Times Select that generated about $10 million in revenue annually. The service limited the number of readers available to advertisers, said Keller.

“The lesson of that experiment, however, was not that readers won’t pay for content,” he said, pointing out that News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have paid- subscription Web sites.

Earth to Bill Keller -- That's because the Journal and the Financial Times have "really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained." In case you haven't noticed, your publication often doesn't.

Additionally, as chronicled for years at the Media Research Center's timeswatch.org unit, the Times frequently ignores important stories or critical aspects of those stories if they are inconvenient to core liberal beliefs; flouts the law if it will embarrass Republican administrations, even if doing so negatively affects national security; and commits journalistic and factual errors with stunning frequency.

In 2005-2007, the market told you that less than a quarter-million people would pay $50 a year to have access to Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Nick Kristof, and their ilk. The $10 million in revenues TimeSelect earned was a nearly irrelevant pittance at a $3 billion company.

But if you want to go to the well again, Mr. Keller, by all means jump right in, and with all of your content. Internet users searching for quality journalism will be cheered to know that you have limited your publication's pollution in the public marketplace of ideas. For the most part, we won't have your paper to kick around online any more. Could you please, please allow us to experience such good fortune?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.