General Question

zensky's avatar

Now the New York Times is a paid website. What can be done about this trend and where will it end? Is Fluther next?

Asked by zensky (13357points) September 27th, 2011

Only Facebook, to my knowledge, openly claims “free, and always will be.” I find it annoying that a free site, taking in all kinds of ad money – would suddenly become a member only paid site.

Besides banning it (I mean, there are a few other news agencies out there) – what can be done?

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25 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t know what you want papers like the New York Times to do. No one ever had the expectation that newspapers should provide their services for free until the advent of the internet. Newspapers have always supported themselves by a combination of people paying for them, either by subscription or buying individual papers and by selling advertising. Newspapers are dying right and left these days because of competition from the internet and television. Unless newspapers find a way to survive they will all be gone not too far in the future and that may very well spell the end of professional journalism. We will all then be at the mercy of bloggers, some with dubious or no professional credentials at all, and cable news channels. Any service has to support itself somehow. Either by selling advertising, by charging for their services or by some combination of the two. What other options do they have?

Buttonstc's avatar

Since when? Have they implemented this yet or just announced upon which date it will take effect?

zensky's avatar

Since May. Try it.

dreamwolf's avatar

We’ve paid for the NEW YORK TIMES ON PAPER, why not digital access? These are TOP and I mean TOP investigative reporters. These aren’t happy little friendly media darlings, these are the NEW YORK TIMES reporters, these guys are the hardcore of the hardcore, AP style runs through their veins. new york times owns journalism. with out new york times, FOX would take over everything. a world without new york times would make thomas jefferson cry. PRINT has died. PRINT is how people, believe it or not, used to make a living, i’m on board with this paid access revolution, its putting food on someones table. I think other sites should do this to further get the internet back in control. i feel like it would add exclusiveness again and people would study certain subjects again instead of having all these “know it alls” running around in life. right now i feel like the internet has the world feeling all sorts of whacked out, too much info being disbursed. when someone strikes a genuine interest in something, it becomes habitual to read about it, and be about it. not like some cheap bastard who just wants to read about others and rain on their parade with their prejudice in hand and just judge the lifestyle.

Buttonstc's avatar


I just did and whatever I clicked on took me to that article.

I’m curious. Had you previously registered with the site or did you just attempt it recently (sometime after May)?

lillycoyote's avatar

@dreamwolf Absolutely! That is my very concern. If papers like The New York Times cannot find a way to support themselves and stay alive then we all lose. We lose the watchdogs and the professionals. You can agree with them or not. It is everyone’s responsibility to look at the sources where they get there news with a critical eye but when and if we lose the professionals, well, that is the end of our access to the truth, I think.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is the same as buying a book to read on your Kindle. You have always paid, unless you borrowed it from the library. I don’t think charging a subscription for on line access is too much different.

Buttonstc's avatar

So is it only those outside the US who have to pay or am I the beneficiary of a glitch. I’ve been accessing it for years for free and even since May. But I don’t usually go every day.

Now I’m really curious.

gorillapaws's avatar

Without the printing and distribution costs associated with physical newspapers, I would think the ad revenue alone should be sufficient to sustain them. I fear this tactic will backfire, but I hope I’m wrong because you guys are all right that this level of journalism is critical for a successful and prosperous future.

marinelife's avatar

The New York Times has big costs associated with gathering its content. Fluther gets its content for free.

janbb's avatar

The NY Times has had a paywall since the Spring. You can access headlines and up to 20 articles a month for free: after that limit, you have to be a subscriber. If you have a paper subscription, you have unlimited access to the Web content. They made the change in order to continue as a viable entity; ad revenues have been down and are not enough to sustain it. I don’t have a problem with the policy if it keeps that great news source alive.

Buttonstc's avatar

Ok. That explains why i was able to just go over there today without a problem. That makes sense.

TexasDude's avatar

If you don’t like the way a business is run, vote with your wallet and deprive them of a customer.

blueiiznh's avatar

I have no issue paying for online newspapers. I pay for 2 Sunday paper deliveries and the NY Times is one of them.
I see no problem in helping to pay the services that it offers…..

Qingu's avatar

You can still read any NYT article for free… just press “stop” on your browser before the page fully loads.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

That would be a HUGE pay cut I think… Scrolling Ad space hits in exchange for $8.00 a week per person per subscription.

Besides… The NY TImes, is one of the only Newpapers that has ever been worth he fee.

jrpowell's avatar

I wish fluther charged 99c to join. Spam and do they like me questions would vanish overnight.

lillycoyote's avatar

@gorillapaws I think a paper like the Times charging a fee is also a matter of them protecting and controlling their “intellectual property” and their content. No one needs to buy a paper or even go to the Times’ website if someone else can link to or repost one of their articles on another site. The New York Times can’t support itself on ad revenue if they can’t promise that they can deliver peoples’ eyeballs to their advertisers’ advertisements.

phaedryx's avatar

If I remember correctly, they have a cookie that tracks the number of visits you make to their site. You hit the paywall when you’ve crossed some visits threshold. People who visit their site infrequently and people who delete the cookie can still access for free.

laureth's avatar

You get what you pay for.

If you want NYT-quality journalism, that takes paid journalists. (Trust me. In my hometown, the main newspaper replaced all of their paid journalists with volunteer bloggers, and it shows.) Paying people to produce a quality product takes money.

However, the quality of Fluther, while nice to have, is largely volunteer. They have one paid employee. The rest of the staff, such as the mods, are volunteers.

As a mod, I am not paid. Because I am not paid, my mod duties cannot possibly compete with time I am paid to work at my real job, because I need to make money. In fact, Fluther duties can’t compete sometimes with things I simply like to do because they’re fun. Ask me when I’m cuddling with my husband in bed some early Saturday morning if I’d prefer to get up, toddle over to the computer, and start inspecting Fluther for Viagra spam, skin cream spam, and people who don’t keep up to the writing standards, and I’d tell you to take a flying leap. ;)

If Fluther paid me, I might be of a different mind. But that would require them to make money somehow, which would mean probably, like the NYT, charging people to look at content. And, as I said before, you get what you pay for. (Which is us. Seriously, how much would you pay to see this quip?)

Buttonstc's avatar

”...toddle over to the computer to inspect Fluther for Viagra spam…

Well said !
I like the way you express yourself, Lady. I needed a good chuckle.

Too often regular users forget how much effort and time it really takes to maintain a quality site.

And as the saying goes “Time is money”

I think the Times has reached a pretty good balance. This way people can post links to Times articles pertinent to whatever they’re discussing and the vast majority of people who click on it can read it without problem.

I think 20 per month is a pretty good balance all told.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would be interested to know what percent of a subscription fee goes towards the costs associated with the physical printing, layout and distribution of a physical paper and how much of it is used for the creation and editing of high-quality articles by professional journalists.

The negative of pay-walls is that they discourage sharing and inter-linking of content. If someone links to an interesting article in some Australian newspaper which I likely won’t happen to subscribe to, then I’m SOL. It sounds like they’re trying to manage this with the 20 freebies/month policy which seems about right, but as others have mentioned, it’s impossible for them to enforce with any serious rigor. I hope it works out for them, but I’m skeptical of the approach. The internet is built on the idea of linking and free-flowing ideas so pay-walls are actually fairly radical.

dreamwolf's avatar

@gorillapaws Subscription fees aren’t even enough to pay off the printers. Printing is very expensive. Journalism is powered by ad’s.

laureth's avatar

I believe (although I’m only 90% sure) that if you follow a NYT link on Facebook, that view isn’t counted toward your monthly limit.

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