NY Times mulls contradictory revenue strategies of metering and membership

The New York Times

is looking for ways to punish its most devoted readers -- and reward them at the same time.

On a conference call to discuss the publisher's second-quarter earnings, CEO Janet Robinson shed some light on internal thinking as to how the Times ought to be monetizing its digital content. "We believe it is very important to explore other means of deriving revenue," said Robinson -- "other" meaning aside from advertising. "Therefore, we are undertaking quantitative and qualitative research as to how many of our readers would be willing to pay for online content, and how much they would pay." (That research recently took the form of an e-mail survey asking subscribers if they'd pay $2.50 or $5 a month for website access.)