N.Y. Times online rumored to start charging for content

Readers may soon have to start paying to read the New York Times online, according to several sources.

While the Old Gray Lady made headlines in 2007 for putting all its content online, including archives, free to everyone, the company now has a change of heart, or so says New York Magazine's Intel blog.

The New York Times itself refused to comment to several journalists, causing them to speculate it's because they plan to jump aboard the Apple Tablet announcement Jan. 27.

According to CNET, Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty told them, "We'll announce a decision when we believe that we have crafted the best possible business approach. ... No details until then."

Print media's relationship with the Internet has been troublesome, and the debate over charging for online content is heated with only a few outlets, like the Wall Street Journal, asking readers for cash. However, with print journalism companies in financial straits and the industry without a vanguard, media outlets will explore all ways to raise revenue.

Although a recent poll stated that 77% of 2,000 adults wouldn't pay for a newspaper's online news, 19% would pay $1 to $10 a month. While readers have gotten used to the idea that information should be free -- investigative work and years spent working on a beat are not.

Perhaps that 19% may be enough for a media outlet. Either way, readers have to be realistic. Approximately 95% of what we consider "news" came from traditional print media, where reporters are still paid to dig up stories.

One could argue charging in the midst of a recession may not be the wisest course of action, but maybe it's precisely because their financial situation is so dire that they must.

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