NYTimes.com Pay Wall: Media CEOs, Editors And Bloggers Weigh In

With The New York Times‘s pay wall a year away and its details vague, there are many questions still left to be answered. What will this metered system really look like? What will it actually cost? Will it send bloggers to link to other news sources and deter readers and advertisers? Although they don’t have all the answers, media insiders have their opinions, so we went to them for feedback on the Timesannouncement today. Read their thoughts below.

Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post:

“This announcement is about a change of policy that is a year away — which is a lifetime in Internet years. The Huffington Post remains committed to the linked economy, and to building a sustainable business that gives our bloggers, editors, and reporters the widest possible audience for their work.”

Caroline Little, CEO North America of Guardian News & Media:

“If the Times begins to charge consumers for their content, I am sure they will do it in a way to maximize traffic from Google and the like. No doubt they will lose some of their readers, but they are most likely to be focusing on keeping their loyal readers, not the ones who come in and out of the site who don’t even know they are on the site. One word of caution: charging for content seems to be the new answer for a weakened industry but it’s not the silver bullet. It is going to take new revenue streams, continued reduction in costs and a strong ad market.”

Alan Meckler, CEO of WebMediaBrands:

“This is not a huge game changer. One can still see big parts of the Times for free. If you are a print subscriber you have total access. NYT will get extra revenues online without greatly hurting its online readership. I have to presume that should the 2011 test work well that the NYT might go further in 2012 by increasing charges and paid online use.”

Jim Gaines, editor-in-chief, FLYPmedia:

“As a longtime subscriber to the New York Times and as someone who uses the paper’s online archives a lot for my work, I’m actually relieved that the Times is creating a metered pay wall system. Everybody who cares about the vigor and longevity of journalism should be supportive of this move. Reporting costs money, and neither publishers nor journalists should be reliant on government or private largesse to see that we get the information we need to be informed citizens.

I’m also hopeful that getting readers to pay will remind advertisers of the value they receive by appearing in a context of credibility and engagement, so that the dual revenue stream that has supported journalism for so long and so well in this country will start to work again.”

Jeff Bercovici, writer for DailyFinance:

“The Times has been incredibly cautious throughout this whole process, and the long runway they’ve given themselves (i.e. not promising anything before 2011) is a sign they’re going to keep up that caution. I strongly doubt we’re going to see anything radical…If the ad economy picks up significantly in 2010, it’s only going to make them more cautious still, meaning they’ll set the free allowances really high.”

Dylan Stableford, writer for TheWrap.com:

“What I don’t understand is why it’s going to take until 2011 to implement. What has the Times been doing the last year? Literally just thinking about it? Also, I’m all for taking time to get something right, but it’s odd that they don’t seem to have an idea of what they’re going to charge.

I think the meter system is great if you’re a print subscriber, sucksif you don’t have a print subscription. They risk alienating loyal readers of the site, and that’s a huge risk I think.

It’s also troubling that they abandoned their first experiment with paid content online — that freaky TimesSelect thing — despite having 270,000 paid subscribers and generating $10 million a year.”

John Cantarella, Senior VP, Digital, Time Inc. Business, News & Sports Group:

“If any non-specialized site can do this successfully it will be the Times. NYTimes.com is at scale and it has a core of loyal users. Everyone will be watching to see the impact on traffic and ad revenue.”