On Friday the New York Times broke its near-silence on its new digital subscription plan with a front-page story by media reporter Jeremy Peters. As of Monday, March 28, visitors to nytimes.com can read 20 stories a month for free. After that, readers get several pay options, one being a $15-a-month fee for full web access. Print subscribers are unaffected.
Peters encapsulated the concerns:
No American news organization as large as The Times has tried to put its content behind a pay wall after allowing unrestricted access. The move is being closely watched by anxious publishers, which have warily embraced the Web and struggled with how to turn online journalism into a profitable business.
Canada is the Times’s guinea pig, which I’m sure pleases them:
The 20-article limit begins immediately for readers accessing NYTimes.com from Canada, which allows the company time to work out any software issues before the system begins in the United States and the rest of the world.
The Times’s announcement prompted more than 2,500 comments to its Web site.
A reader in Los Angeles wrote, “The price is too high. I just cannot afford it. I will go to BBC.com or cnn.com. Sorry, NYT, you picked the wealthy again.”
That comment prompted Lori K from Boston to respond, “The ‘wealthy?’ It’s two lunches at McDonalds. For a month of reporting. I’m happy to support the NYT for such a low price.”
Rick Edmonds at Poynter crunches some tentative circulation and ad numbers, but says to "check back in a year" to see if the paper's bets paid off.