Katherine Laidlaw

The New York Times takes the stand

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Finally, finally! Wednesday morning, The New York Times announced its plan to put up a paywall and acknowledge journalism’s not free to produce.

The beginning of 2011 is the oblique timeline for the “metered model” plan to charge only after readers have gone over a not-yet-set limit of articles per month.

The decision ignited a barrage of Twitter debate, some laudatory and some not. On Mashable, Stan Schroeder argues that the decision won’t attract links to the site, nor attract new readers. On Slate, Jack Shafer says the Times is tackling the wrong question—there’s an advertising crisis, not a readership one.

Taking a poorly conducted poll of 10 people in the journalism lab from which I am writing, 70 percent say they would pay for Times content behind a paywall. The number peters out at the mention of Canadian newspapers putting up paywalls. We’ll just get our news from CBC, these j-students say. Whether or not that 70 percent number bodes well for The New York Times and its two-years-away plan, at least the paper’s making an effort to address the problem—we’re convinced we deserve content for free. I fear there might not be a way to reserve that sentiment.


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