On Wednesday, The New York Times announced it would charge some frequent readers for access to its Web site beginning January 2011. While it sounds horrible at first, it’s actually not so bad.
According to a piece by Richard Perez-Pena, “…a visitor will be allowed to view a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the print newspaper, even those who subscribe only to the Sunday paper, will receive full access to the site without any additional charge.”
I don’t see what the problem is. Those who have a subscription to the newspaper have nothing to worry about. Those who get to an individual New York Times article via Google, Yahoo, or another server will be allowed to read that piece. And the home page will be accessible to all visitors.
During a months time, the NYTimes.com attracts over 17 million readers in the United States alone. It is sited as the countries most popular newspaper site. Imagine if one million of those online readers decided to subscribe to the Sunday paper. Not only would that mean full access to the site for the reader but it would help the struggling newspaper industry. Why is it acceptable to subscribe and pay for a newspaper to be delivered to your house but subscribing to the same material online is considered outrageous? Is it because now you'll be paying for blog content?
Kachingle offers an alternative, “…support the New York Times blogs you love directly, with a voluntary contribution of just $5/month.” The service “is about new thinking for online content, a new business model where users like you voluntarily support the online content you love.” Here is how it works: You install a Firefox or Chrome browser (cannot be used with other browsers) extension, and this puts a small Kachingle bar medallion at the top of each NYT blog. Then you click on “Join Kachingle to support this blog” from the Leaderboard, and now you are instantly providing financial support to your favorite blog.
I think it’s easier to just pay a few dollars a month for online content or subscribe to the newspaper.