New York Times Pay Wall and How to Save Money Crossing It

NY Times: pay wallWe'll look back some day at the first dozen years or so of the Internet as a golden age, when information flowed freely, even information developed at great expense from seminal sources such as The New York Times. Those times are coming to an end if the Gray Lady succeeds with a pay wall plan to begin charging for digital access to daily content.

As of March 28, the paper will begin serving up content based on this menu:
  • To read it on your smart phone, $3.75 a week, billed every 4 weeks.
  • To read it on your tablet (such as the iPad) $5 per week.
  • To read it on both platforms, $8.75 a week.
The paper will continue to be available in digital form for the Kindle via the Amazon store at $19.99 per month, the Nook via Barnes and Noble at the same price, and the Sony e-reader at the Sony store, same price.

If you already have home delivery ($11.70 a week in New York City) of the paper paper, fear not: you will also receive free unlimited Internet access, as well as access to 100 archive articles every four weeks.

There is, however, an easy way to avoid the big digital access charges. Signing up for the Saturday and Sunday editions is just $6.50 a week with New York City delivery, and it comes with unlimited Internet access. That would trim $2.25 off of your weekly bill if you want to browse it both on your phone and pad. Out-of-towners can sign up for an introductory rate Sunday delivery only for $3.75 a week, which gives you the same privileges.

If you're just an occasional reader, you should be pleased to learn that the paper will allow browsers to access up to 20 NYT articles per month for free. Links from blogs, Facebook, Twitter and the like will still work, even if that takes you over your 20 articles per month limit. Links from Google searches will be limited to 5 per day.

Pundits on the Internet are divided in their reaction to this move. Many applaud the Times decision to continue to allow blogs such as WalletPop to link to pertinent articles. Others see this as another step on the slippery slope toward pay-per-view of essential news, or don't believe the paper will succeed in charging for Internet access.

The Wall Street Journal and Consumer Reports, among others, have proved that people are willing to pay for information that is generally otherwise not available, or information that they deem more trustworthy than that generally found on the Internet. Will The New York Times fall within the same category?

One can only hope so, if only to provide jobs to reporters who actually do the investigative journalism that a democracy depends upon. The Internet is full of regurgitative journalism, but someone has to originate those stories. Someone has to go into the radioactive zones, ask senators difficult questions, and call company executives on their excesses. The NYT is one of a handful of nationally important resources of information that lead, rather than follow, the digital stream.
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