The New York Times needs your money. They need it like the Jets needed some serious D to hold off the Colts and Favre needed that last throw to not get intercepted. That said, the web has been abuzz with “The Gray Lady’s” plans to start charging readers for full access to its site. Starting in 2011, Times readers will have to pony up the bucks to for the content they’ve been enjoying free of charge.
If you recall, the folks at the Times tried to charge for content before, to unfavorable results. According to the Associated Press, the first attempt came in 1996 and only garnered 4,000 subscribers. The next iteration drew about 221,000 users, but it was cutting into ad sales, the bread and butter of any publication.
This time around the newspaper will be using a metered system meaning that articles will be free to start. After a certain number of articles, the proverbial buck will stop and readers will have to fork over theirs. There’s currently no word on how many articles a user will be able to access before the pay up prompt will flash. The Times is also staying mum on exactly how much it will be charging its loyal readers.
If the third time turns out to be the charm for “The Gray Lady”, what does that mean for other publications, namely shaky pubs like Ebony, Jet, and Essence that seem to still be trying to find a viable web formula? If the Times manage to turn a decent profit, could the metered model transfer to other publications? The sweet hopeful side of me that secretly believes in sugar plum fairies and unicorns wants to say yes. My crunchy cynical side doesn’t think this will be the miracle magazine cure that magazine publishers have been looking for.
The publishing world has yet to find a way to put a monetary value on content. It’s not that content is valuable, as a journalist, I will argue till I’m blue in the face about the value of what I do. But with citizen journalism going strong, it can be difficult to convince readers that they should pay for online content. It’s still very much an ad-driven industry.
In the meantime, I wish The New York Times the best in their venture, but I am still waiting with bated for a profitable solution for the magazine industry.Category: News | Tags: Advertising, ebony, Essence, Jet, Magazines, New York Times, paid content