The advent of the internet has slammed the newspaper business harder than any other sector of the media, and while it has natural advantages over other media insofar as its ability to create written-word content, it has a very difficult time matching the paper/ink model when it comes to selling advertising and getting subscription cash. NYT is getting ready to try to generate subscription money.
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger laid it all out in a letter to subscribers, which we will reprint in its entirety:
Dear New York Times Reader,
Today marks a significant transition for The New York Times as we introduce digital subscriptions. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications.
This change comes in two stages. Today, we are rolling out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
If you are a home delivery subscriber of The New York Times, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and the rest of our rich offerings on your computer, smartphone and tablet. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also receive free access to NYTimes.com.
If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access up to a defined reading limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.
This is how it will work, and what it means for you:
a.. On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.
b.. On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.
c.. The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available at nytimes.com/access.
d.. Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to NYTimes.com and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to homedelivery.nytimes.com to sign up for free access.
e.. Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
f.. The home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.
For more information, go to nytimes.com/digitalfaq.
Thank you for reading The New York Times, in all its forms.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Publisher, The New York Times
Chairman, The New York Times Company
RBB-TVBR observation: NYT tried awhile back to put some of its most popular columnist behind a pay wall, and before too long they were back out in the open for free browsing. But since then, there have been no major breakthroughs in keeping newspaper finances afloat. Will this attempt take hold? We are certain the rest of the industry will be paying very close attention as this effort moves forward.