All the Online News That’s Fit to Pay For?

The New York Times confirmed the speculation of the past couple of days, announcing that it will limit readers to an as-yet-undetermined number of stories per month before charging an as-yet-undetermined flat fee for full access to its site.

The move will not occur until early 2011, and executives from the newspaper’s parent company, The New York Times Co., offered few specifics.

The Times has dabbled in the pay arena before with its TimesSelect service, which lasted from 2005-07 and offered readers access to editorials and columns for $49.95 per year.

The New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said:

This announcement allows us to begin the thought process that’s going to answer so many of the questions that we all care about. We can’t get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right.

This is a bet, to a certain degree, on where we think the Web is going. This is not going to be something that is going to change the financial dynamics overnight.

President and CEO Janet L. Robinson echoed Sulzberger’s sentiments, saying:

There’s no prize for getting it quick. There’s more of a prize for getting it right.


Senior vice president for digital operations Martin A. Nisenholtz chimed in:

There’s a lot of technical work that we need to do over the next year to get this right. And I think if you were to benchmark this against other, similar implementations, you would find that a year is not excessive.

And executive editor Bill Keller said:

It underscores the value of what we do—trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing. And it gives us a second way to sustain that hard, expensive work, in addition to our healthy advertising revenue.

E&P in Exile, the blog being run by former editors of Editor & Publisher, published several tweets reacting to the move, including this one from Farhad Manjoo, a writer for Slate:

I used to pay $700 a year for the NYT. I don’t like the paywall, but I’m certain I’ll sign up. They’ve got me by the…