The New York Times to Erect Paywall March 28

The New York Times finally announced the details for its paywall, which will take effect March 28.

Users will be able to read 20 articles per month free-of-charge, after which they can pay $15 per month for access to the website, $20 for the Web and an iPad app, and $35 for access via all digital platforms. Home-delivery subscribers will receive free access to all platforms except e-readers (Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook).

Visits through search engines or social-networking sites will not count toward the 20-article monthly limit, but there will be a cap of five articles per day via Google.

The Times added that the paywall will be enacted immediately for users in Canada, to allow it to test operations and handle software issues before March 28.

The New York Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said:

A few years ago, it was almost an article of faith that people would not pay for the content they accessed via the Web.

This move is an investment in our future. It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to support the continuation of our journalistic mission and digital innovation, while maintaining our large and growing audience to support our robust advertising business. And this system is our latest, and best, demonstration of where we believe the future of valued content — be it news, music, games, or more — is going.

The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network, to make sure we continue to engage with the widest possible audience.

Ken Doctor, an author who studies the economics of the newspaper business, told the Times:

This is practically a do-or-die year. The financial pressures on newspapers are steady or increasing. They’re in an industry that is still receding. Newspapers are trying to pay down their debt, but they have fewer resources to do it. They’re very cash-flow-constricted.

What matters is, how can you attract a sizable group of core readers who are loyal to your news brand and get most of them — not all of them — to pay for access? And that’s the core of the new business. It’s a major shift in psychology.

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