The New York Times to Start Charging Online Readers

The New York Times is expected to announce that they will be charging online readers to access their content.

The newspaper is expected to announce in coming weeks that it will institute a metered pay plan in which readers would have access to a limited number of free articles before being invited to subscribe, according to a report in New York magazine that cited sources close to the newsroom.

I can tell you right now that their circulation will sink like a brick if they actually go through with a plan like that. I consider the NY Times to be one of the better newspapers, so I’m not happy to predict their downfall. Unfortunately, I believe that will be the case if they implement a pay wall.

I propose a much more consumer-friendly strategy, one built to survive the gauntlet of internet publishing.

  1. The New York Times must cease production of their print version. This move alone would save a significant annual sum by taking printing and distribution costs out of the equation.
  2. Unique content, quality unique content is the most important key to the paper’s success. This means they need to stop running syndicated stories from sources like the Associated Press, in favor of content produced in-house. They need to hire more reporters, columnists, the whole nine yards.
  3. The third and final step is to move to a model similar to the one Envato uses for their Tuts+ sites. Much of the content, such as news articles, should be freely accessible, with additional content available for a nominal fee. One idea would be to charge for some of their editorial columns. Another would be to cover more local news, and charge for the access.

Well, that’s the approach I would take in their situation. Unfortunately, traditional media companies rarely see things with the same wisdom as digital advocates. :)