NY Times Pay Wall

A year ago, the New York Times launched a pay wall for its digital audience.  Online readers were able to access twenty articles for free; beyond that, there were required to pay for a digital subscription.  Yesterday they announced that the liberties for the online contingent of the Times have been cut in half.  Starting in April, the new limit for free articles before hitting the pay wall will be ten.

While I understand that print is floundering and newspapers need to find ways to make money in the digital age, it would be nearly impossible to convince me to spend money for online news where there are so many places to get it for free.  The prices for a digital subscription for the New York Times range from $15 to $35 per month, based on the desired level of access (computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc.).  I think that this will provide an insurmountable obstacle for a large number of readers and I am frightened of the potential implications.

If the Times’ push for digital subscriptions fails, what is the next step?  Clearly the world is only becoming more digital, so if they can’t find a formula for success, what will happen?  Will the New York Times perish?  Is that even conceivable?

Equally as frightening to me, is the thought that the prestigious and reliable reporting of the Times will begin decreasing in its reach to the general public.  They will, of course, have dedicated – and affluent – readers who dutifully sign up for a digital subscription.  But surely this will result in decreased readership, and they are certainly not the only publication to be wrestling with this issue.  What of the masses who yearn for dependable, intelligent online news but don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars per year to get it?  Will they turn to more lowbrow news outlets?  Could this be the first step towards a general decline in the public intellect?

Maybe things aren’t as dire as they seem.  Perhaps this is a new beginning, an opportunity for an intelligent, reliable, objective news outlet to blaze a trail in the digital space and cater to a new generation of readers.  One can only hope…and wish the Gray Lady Godspeed.

Categories: Media