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More details regarding NYT paywall announcement

Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute and Bill Grueskin, academic affairs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online, appear on PBS’s NewsHour regarding what is known about the recent announcement by the New York Times regarding a new paywall plan starting in 2011.

You can also read the transcript.

Community Comments

#1 Kevin Moore
January/24/2010
@ 1:02 pm

The metered structure sounds like a good compromise between the free-for-all and subscribers-only models. The Times has a right — not just moral, but economic — to charge for access to content it provides. We all know how much effort and time and money goes into original reporting, investigative journalism, and foreign correspondence. Not all of that can be borne by ad revenue.

Two problems still seem insurmountable.

1) The “news elsewhere” problem. Most readers honestly don’t care about the NYT reputation, brand and history when they want to find out more about current events. There are so many other free options on so many media choices, a reader has no reason to pay for NYT content. Even if you want in-depth reporting, there are other options.

2) Advertisers. The real money doesn’t come from subscriptions, but by the ad rates one can charge for a targeted audience as represented by subscriptions. This holds true in print and online. Grueskin notes that the WSJ approach succeeds because advertisers know what audience they are getting when they advertise with the Journal. Perhaps this will hold true for the NYT when the stats show who is willing to pay for online access and who balks at the firewall.

But it seems that advertisers have been getting widely distribute online ads on the cheap for a long time. I could be wrong, but it was a reasonable expectation for ad rates to rise as the online audience grew. Well, the audience grew, but the ad rates didn’t. Of course, advertisers want better metrics on “click-throughs” and “eyeballs” — that is, measurements of ad effectiveness — and despite a decade of trial, error and GoogleAds, the situation doesn’t seem to have improved much. Please correct me if I am wrong here.

#2 Tom Wood
January/24/2010
@ 2:40 pm

The problem I see with the thought that subscriptions will lead to higher ad rates is that I’ve been conditioned to expect the paywall to eliminate ads entirely. Sites like Salon and Daily Kos offered the ‘no ads’ option as a premium for paying for the subscription. Why would I pay for a subscription just to be targeted even more aggressively by the ads?

Assuming they get past that, then yeah, better demographics about their users will help support ad rates. Advertisers discovered that a huge indifferent audience didn’t help sales. A highly focused audience was more receptive to targeted ads. But the WSJ is already a focused audience, much more so than the NYT. Maybe they could charge for specific sections to get more granularity on the audience.

#3 Ted Dawson
January/25/2010
@ 8:55 am

I suspect this has something to do with Apple’s new tablet. Apple is supposed to have deals in the works with several newspaper and magazine groups.

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