Times Execs Answer Readers’ Pay Wall Questions

In the days since its announcement this week about plans to launch a pay wall on its Web site next year, The New York Times has covered the news from every angle. The paper is also offering up top execs to answer pressing questions from readers, which will give information to press outlets and blogs, too.

New York Times Co. CEO Janet L. Robinson and Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president for digital operations, are currently fielding questions for the NYTimes.com “Talk to The Times” feature.

In addition to assuring readers that subscribers to the print edition will get free access to the site — though those who can’t get home delivery are out of luck — Robinson and Nisenholtz gave a little insight into the details of the pay wall plan that have yet to be revealed. For example, on lessons learned from their last attempt to charge for online access, TimesSelect:

“We learned, for example, that people will pay for content online, particularly for a robust package of high quality Times content. We also learned that you have to carefully weigh the benefits of an advertising and a subscription model. And we learned that many NYTimes.com users believe what differentiates us is our journalism, the depth and breadth of our reporting and analysis.”

Not surprisingly, the paper’s own research has revealed that “a significant number of our best customers are willing to pay for access to the entire Web site,” which is most likely the impetus behind the confidence to launch a pay wall.

Even more importantly for blog readers like you, we were happy to learn that if readers come to a Times article from another Web site — like Facebook or FishbowlNY — “you will have access to that article and it will not count toward your allotment of free ones,” Robinson and Nisenholtz said.

So (if we are interpreting this correctly) that means that we can link to stories and not fear that our readers won’t be able to read them. That’s a smart move for the Times, because although the paper will likely lose some traffic from direct readers who refuse to pay, it will keep traffic levels that come from recommended links that those who do pay for the service (or those who maximize their free monthly allowance) publish elsewhere or send to friends.

Talk to The Times: Answers About Charging OnlineNew York Times

Previously: Local News Outlets Cover Times Pay Wall Plans