Monday, August 16, 2010

NYT property, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, institutes metered paywall; most of the content remains free

Stating that a "new day dawns for the Telegram & Gazette" publisher Bruce Gaultney and editor Leah Lamson announced Sunday on the newspaper's website that the New York Times Co. property has constructed its very own metered paywall.

Starting today, web readers who are not subscribers to the newspaper will have access to 10 local news stories a month for free before being asked to pay a monthly charge of $14.95, or $1 per day. Web readers will have to register to gain access, effectively closing off the site to those who casually surf over to the site -- following a link, for instance.
Current print subscribers will continue to enjoy free and complete access.

The newspaper currently offers new subscribers to fee of $83.98 for 26 weeks of home delivery -- or the equivalent of $14 per month, meaning that web-only access will cost readers more than receiving the print newspaper plus having web access.

At least one reader responded positively in the comments to the post: "It's about time! All newspapers should be charging for their online content."

Nonetheless, the vast majority of comments were negative, some accusing the paper of being treated as "a guinea pig (by the NYT parent company) to see if readers are willing to pay to read online content. This 'experiment' will only end in failure."

Some readers accused the editors of deleting comments.

Despite the metered paywall, much of the content on the news site is, and will remain, free to access. Breaking news, wire news stories, obituaries, blogs, ads (of course), photo galleries and videos, as well as the newspaper's own weekly products will remain accessible without paying or registering on the site.

Guess: few will register or pay because so much much of the content remains outside the metered paywall. Both advocates and critics of paywalls will probably not find this a good test of their positions -- but we'll see.

Note: This story was accidentally posted earlier when Blogger went a little crazy and posted the previous story ahead of schedule. I deleted the earlier version of this story for posting now.