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NYT Close to Paid Online Content Plan

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The New York Times is reportedly close to deciding on some kind of paid-Web strategy, the New York Observer reported today.

The paper states that Executive Editor Bill Keller told staffers on Wednesday that two proposals were being "strongly considered."

"One includes a 'meter system,' in which the reader can roam freely on the Web site until hitting a predetermined limit of word-count or page views, after which a meter will start running and the reader is charged for movement on the site thereafter," the Observer said.

The other is described as a "membership" system. "In this model, readers pledge money to the site and are invited into a 'New York Times community.' You write a check, you get a baseball cap or a T-shirt ... an invite to Times event, or perhaps, like The Economist, access to specialized content on the Web. He said he wouldn't even be opposed to offering a donor access to a Page One editorial meeting as long as it doesn't affect the paper competitively," the Observer stated.

A Times spokeswoman had no immediate comment to E&P on the story.

The Observer report is here.

The story also noted that at the same meeting, Times general manager Scott Heekin-Canedy said that the forecasts for the second quarter are looking "roughly the same as the company's dismal results in the first quarter. In the first quarter, The New York Times Company lost $74.5 million."