Over the weekend, New York‘s Gabriel Sherman reported that The New York Times, at long last, is “Ready to Charge Online Readers.” He noted that the paper would adopt a Financial Times-style metered system—as opposed to a total paywall like WSJ or an NPR member model—meaning readers would have access to a certain amount of free content before being asked to pay.
But the nytpicker, which deemed the story a dubious mix of previous reporting and “carefully hedged speculation,” thinks Sherman’s sourcing (“Supposed ‘Scoop’“) is a bit shakey:
New York Magazine says — with no attribution whatsoever — that the NYT “seems to have settled” on the metered system. Seems!
The story reports, again without attribution, that it will likely be “months” before the NYT begins charging, “perhaps sometime this spring.” Perhaps!
Gawker rehashes this all at length, and then says, pretty much, who cares? Because:
It’s always been pretty easy to get around without paying, thanks to the smart people of the internet who figure these kinds of things out. Also, there’s not one story that I have to go around the pay wall on that I’d need to read in the Wall Street Journal right now.
And today, the Post weighs in, suggesting that current talk of a paywall model (or “Web Acces$$ Plan,” if you will) was spurred by Mexican billionaire and Times investor Carlos Slim:
The Mexican mega-investor — the Times‘ largest individual shareholder — set off a loud buzz all weekend after proclaiming on TV he’s in favor of dumping the newspaper’s policy of free online access because the bold act “will be successful at the end of the day.”
The surprise public debut of Slim’s investor role at the paper came Friday in a CNBC interview — and by early yesterday, leaks from Times sources said the company was at last ready to make its long-awaited decision about seeking online revenue — possibly by early springtime.
Which is nice, but doesn’t tell us what kind of Web Acce$$ plan to expect.
Despite the salivating eagerness with which the Web greets Times gossip, nothing looks conclusive. Read John Koblin’s previous reporting on the question here, and stay tuned for more.