March 17, 2011

The NYT digital subscription program empowers bloggers.

I just got the email describing the new program:
On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world....

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.

... 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.
Okay, then! I will subscribe, read, and put links here for you, which you'll be able to get to. Great!

From the NYT FAQ:
Can I still access NYTimes.com articles through Facebook, Twitter, Google or my blog?

Yes. We encourage links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and social media. When you visit NYTimes.com through a link from one of these channels, that article (or video, slide show, etc.) will count toward your monthly limit of 20 free articles, but you will still be able to view it even if you've already read your 20 free articles.
I hope this isn't a temporary sop to keep us bloggers from slamming them. This component of the program is absolutely crucial. I wouldn't spend my time on the NYT if I couldn't link to the articles (without sending readers into a pay wall). I'd go looking for interesting stuff elsewhere. This way, I will continue my practice of sending readers to the NYT every day, and I like the new power I will have in selecting which doors to open to free access.

ADDED: I do see a problem. If I have a link that sends you to the NYT, and you click, you will be consuming one of your 20 freebies. You might get annoyed at me if I don't warn you. I and other bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers will be pushing people toward the pay wall you hit when you go over 20 in a given month. So we bloggers have received something, but we will also be helping them get readers into the position where they will need to pay if they want to go into the NYT on their own. What will readers do? They may decide to subscribe, but they may decide to begin their reading in the blogs (and Twitter and Facebook) so that they don't have to deal with the wall.

IN THE COMMENTS: rdkraus said:
Makes no difference to me. The Times is not what it once was. If I reach 20, I'll just ignore them for a month. No big deal.
The NYT will see if this happens. The month begins with good traffic, then it predictably drops off.

MORE: There will be unlimited access to the home page and "section fronts" and "blog fronts." This might have a perverse effect. Readers will scan brief titles and resist clicking for the most part. If you can only click one thing per day, what will you click? And if the NYT is trying to lure people into clicking beyond the 20 freebies, how will they write those teasers? Look at the "most popular" ranking in the sidebar over there to see what people are most likely to click on. Expect more articles about dogs and weight-loss. And about how having a dog will help you lose weight (which actually was a highly popular NYT story of the past week).

49 comments:

edutcher said...

Just another way for the Gray Lady to lie to us all.

Pinch must need a few bucks.

MikeR said...

Don't know if it still works in this new setup, but I could always to get to NYT articles via Google anyhow. Google the title, and the resulting link works, even if the exact same link bumps into the subscription wall coming from elsewhere.
Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic told me it's because everyone wants Google business.

Ron said...

This will make less inclined to follow your (or anyones) links to the NYT, because I would prefer to decide for myself which articles from my precious 20 I would want to read, rather than let you decide.

pbAndj said...

I don't understand why folks (especially cons) think they should get something for nothing.

Ann Althouse said...

@MikeR Check the FAQ re Google. "When you visit NYTimes.com by clicking links in Google search results, you'll enjoy up to five free articles per day."

rdkraus said...

Makes no difference to me. The Times is not what it once was. If I reach 20, I'll just ignore them for a month. No big deal.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't understand why folks (especially cons) think they should get something for nothing."

Have you made your PayPal donation to this blog recently?

The business model for newspapers has been advertising. If they lose readers, this will backfire. It's like broadcast TV. They need you to watch. You're doing them a favor.

Ann Althouse said...

"This will make less inclined to follow your (or anyones) links to the NYT, because I would prefer to decide for myself which articles from my precious 20 I would want to read, rather than let you decide."

Yeah, that's what I said in the update to this post. But I actually think I can do a better job of sending you to more articles than you'll do picking out only 20 per month for yourself. I guess I'll need a quick warning sign that it's NYT. Some readers like to avoid the NYT anyway.

Ann Althouse said...

It will motivate me to do meatier quotes, which would deter you from clicking through at all. That will cost them readers.

pbAndj said...

"Have you made your PayPal donation to this blog recently?"

I buy portalized stuff. Sometimes expensive portalized stuff. So, that's better than nutin.

AJ Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

How do they count views if you're not a subscriber?

Just clear your cookies or something.

Henry said...

Funny. As a regular online New York Times reader I occasionally see articles that have Althouse written all over them. Then I go to Althouse and there they are! Well, not always. But more than once.

Now, after hit 20 each month, I'll need to go to Althouse first.

But tell me, zeitgeist, why shouldn't some bright geek create a blog or twitter feed that links to every New York Times article every day?

rhhardin said...

I'm allowed one article a month from Financial Times and seldom hit the limit.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

I know what I'll do. Keep reading the Wall Street Journal.

I didn't realize that anyone outside of the NPR listener world still read the NYT.

Henry said...

How do they count views if you're not a subscriber?

You already need to register and log in to read articles.

AJ Lynch said...

Pb&J:
Libruls like to give people something for nothing using their redistributive wealth schemes.

OT sorta- I wish bloggers would identify where their links lead- for instance, the Wapo stories take forever to load as does Slate and the Philly Inquirer. If I knew beforehand, I would not click on the link.

AJ Lynch said...

So you could set up 31 blogs -one for each day of a MONTH and post up to 20 NYT stories per day to the associated blog. The 31 blogs would get a fair amount of search results I bet. And traffic means eyeballs and ad money ka-ching!

Hmm need numbering and blog naming sequence...www.nyt0001.blogspot.com
etc

PatHMV said...

Good! I've been hoping they would do something like that for a long time. Encourage the bloggers to pay, so they can provide something for their readers.

And don't feel the need to warn me about using up my 20 free reads; the only time I read the NYT is when a link from you or another bloggers sends me there.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Who do they think they are? The Wall Street Journal?

Maguro said...

You probably could get around the limit by clearing your cookies periodically but it's not really worth the trouble. I probably wouldn't visit the NYT at all if weren't for click-throughs from this blog.

Ron said...

But I actually think I can do a better job of sending you to more articles than you'll do picking out only 20 per month for yourself.

I might agree with that if the NYT limit were 40 or 60, but 20 isn't even 1 a day...and I think even slo ol' me can find an article a day to read in the NYT....so we get back to the rationing problem.

Perhaps you should only cite them sparingly? If I get in the habit of not following your links...I'll do it everywhere on your site. I'm more inclined to follow links if I don't have to jump through mental hoops about how many articles I'm allowed.

Thorley Winston said...

OT sorta- I wish bloggers would identify where their links lead- for instance, the Wapo stories take forever to load as does Slate and the Philly Inquirer. If I knew beforehand, I would not click on the link.


I usually just hover my cursor over the link to find the web address before clicking through. The web address usually tells me the name of the source and I can decide then whether I want to lick through or not.

rhhardin said...

Alien pet diets is the most likely heavy click-through, according to Tony Hendra.

Peano said...

I don't understand why folks (especially cons) think they should get something for nothing.

You miss the point. We can already get mountains of reliable news on the web at no cost. Would I miss anything worthwhile if I never read the NYT? No. So, their 20-story limit doesn't concern me in the least. They could put all of their content behind a paywall and it wouldn't concern me. I get my news elsewhere.

pbAndj said...

The pricing seems odd.

Fifteen for the .com and smartphone.

Add, five ($20 total) and you get .com and a tablet, but no smartphone.

Add, another fifteen ($35 total) and you get the smartphone app thrown in. Here, the addition of the smartphone app is the same cost as the complete .com access and the smartphone app. The way I do the math, the .com access has zero value, the smartphone app is worth fifteen dollars, and the tablet app is worth twenty dollars.

And, isn't The Daily tablet thing selling a year of service for essentially the same price as eight weeks of the NYT tablet thing. And, as all good cons will tell you, anything from Murdoch is true and wonderful and complete (and fair and balanced), so The Daily is a better product than the NYT.

Anyway, I'll probably pay the thirty five, I really wouldn't want to choose between the phone or the pad. Maybe that's what the pricing scheme is counting on.

Smilin' Jack said...

Not that I care enough about NYT's content to actually do it, but why couldn't I set up a dummy blog, link to anything I want to read, and then follow my own links?

Bryant Likes said...

I refuse to read any news article that requires me to log in to view it. So if they are going to start forcing people to log in to view all content, then I will never read it.

Bruce said...

@ AJ Lynch
"OT sorta- I wish bloggers would identify where their links lead- for instance, the Wapo stories take forever to load as does Slate and the Philly Inquirer. If I knew beforehand, I would not click on the link."

Just hover your mouse pointer over the link. The address you'd go to if you clicked it shows up in the bottom bar of your browser (Well, in IE that's where you see it. It might be elsewhere in FireFox or Safari).

I'd never consider clicking a link, from any blog, without knowing where it was going first - for more than one reason.

Quayle said...

Newspapers are walking dead.

All distribution and broadcast networks are walking dead, which is what a newspaper is.

The pipe between the content originators and the content consumers is worthless and therefore unprofitable for anyone to run.

For example, do you know what brand asphalt you drove to work on today?)

What is valuable is:
1. content that eyes look at,
2. eyes looking at your content.

Ann has both of these going for her.

She should be the one dictating to the New York Times the terms of her driving traffic to them, not them dictating to her.

The New York Times has lost the game and they don't even know it, or they know it but they are hoping that you don't know it.

Stupid fools.

Joe said...

I stopped going to New York Times when my browser "forgot" my user name and password and its so old, I don't remember what it was. I don't miss it.

Joe said...

BTW, requiring a password for otherwise free content is one thing I despite about PJTV (and that the site itself has an awful design and most the content sucks.)

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Thorley Winston said...

The web address usually tells me the name of the source and I can decide then whether I want to lick through or not.

I nominate this for typo of the day.

Henry said...

Readers will scan brief titles and resist clicking for the most part. If you can only click one thing per day, what will you click?

This is mostly what I do now. It has given me a great appreciation for headline writers.

Quayle said...

The pipe between the content originators and the content consumers is worthless and therefore unprofitable for anyone to run.

Let me clarify:

Because anyone can easily build a pipe between their content and the content consumers (e.g. the internet - the pipe is already built), owning your own pipe (e.g. NYTimes, AP, CBS, Verizon) is to own a cheaply replaceable asset - an asset that has not real value.

Why do you think Verizon is desperate to get into content, like selling stuff off their sites.

Why do you think Apple is desperate to own the store?

Why do you think NFL launched their own network? (And how disruptive do you think that was to their negotiations with NBC?)

The New York Times has a brand, and an aggregation and distribution network.

The network is worthless.

Their brand is slipping because they don't have can't have a corner on all good writing or analysis. (Case in point is Althouse.)

That reminds me of investment banks like Drexel Burnham Lambert. They have two things, money and reputation.

Once they admit that the money is gone, the reputation is gone with it.

So it is with newspapers. Once the news aggregation and distribution network is worthless, their news content is worthless.

Their only path of retreat is to create original content, which puts them squarely in competition with the Althouses of the web on analysis, and with all the other writers sitting and cranking out fiction or social commentary.

Quayle said...

Except, they used to also have editors, of which I am always in dire need.

Sorry my copy sucks so bad.

MadisonMan said...

As it is now, I just clear cookies and history when the Times asks for a sign-in, and that fixes things. Usually, though, I just don't look at the linked-to article.

So I'll have to un-learn ignoring Times links. We'll see.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann: "I can do a better job of sending you to more articles than you'll do picking out only 20 per month for yourself."

That's what sites like Real CP do very well already, except that they don't have any bias in favor of the NYT. Many readers now rely on the RSS sites that they trust to link to the 'must-read' articles of the day. I think that trend will continue to grow over time. One-stop shopping for news (that's another aspect of the NYT model) seems a bit out of touch with today's reality, when so much information from so many sources is available that no one has to rely on the one-stop-shops of yesteryear. And, if Keller thinks "fair and balanced" is cynical, how would he describe "all the news that's fit to print"?

Coketown said...

This seems like a neat idea from the Times, actually. It must have been a mistake. Do the vast majority of non-NYT's loyalists read more than 20 NY Times articles a month? I think I read maybe 5 to 10 a month from them, and I only ever reach them through blog links. So someone like me would not even notice the change. Good! And someone like Ann can link to them to her heart's content. Good!

Overall I think this is the Times admitting that their editorial model has shifted from mainstream news to niche, erudite nonsense that demands a subscription because not enough popular eyeballs are drawn.

Paddy O said...

Fodder for the Altbillies.

THE PALIN DOCTRINE EMERGES!

(and with it is my quiet protest against the NYT)

Phil 3:14 said...

The latest iteration of the NYT's attempt to stay ahead of the internet curve. Don't you want eyeballs pointed at ads?

nope, I'm sorry you've had your 20 looks at our ads, you can't have anymore this month. WE'VE GOT STANDARDS TO KEEP UP!

Almost Ali said...

TimesSelect was WW1. They lost. Now the sequel.

Almost Ali said...

Hey, Carlos, can you spare a dime?

Bob said...

Don't worry about it.
I bounce off rather quickly from paywall sites. Simply grab quoted excerpts, attribute to the source, and enjoy your "Fair Use" rights.

...That is until we lose them...

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that they are fumbling around for a business plan that works to their strengths, and, yes, they do still have some. Just not as many as they used to, and a lot of weaknesses, including that much of the right believes that they are a leading mouth piece and apologist for the left, Democrats, the President, etc. And, I think in the end, the knee-jerk leftism of Pinch Sulzberger and the NYT staff is ultimately going to relegate the publication to a niche position.

I picked up a book recently that was drastically marked down, being 5 years since publication. It was titled the "Long Tail" or something like that, and it suggested that RSS feeds, blogs, etc. are becoming ever more important in situations where there is a long tail, and that includes much of the Internet these days, including news and opinion. Intermediaries, like those feeds, and Prof. Althouse here, provide value to the rest of us by screening content for us. And, so you end up with a lot of fairly specialized information intermediaries who really now have more value than those providing the actual content.

BTW - the Long Tail is based on a theory that many products and services have a negative log demand slope, and you see this when the cost of storing and distributing the good or service nears zero. One example is music, where it turns out that some tunes have huge demand, others have less, and a huge number have ever less. But, the companies (like Apple and Amazon) than can address the tail can make buckets of money. News, and esp. commentary, fits this model probably even better than does music. And those trusted intermediaries are important in navigating the huge number of choices out on the tail.

The NYT was built at a time when the cost of entry into the market was non-trivial, and that once market was built, it could be maintained for decades. But now, the cost of entry is negligible (Google gives away free blogs). And so they are operating in a market they no longer understand.

Brent said...

The Wall Street Journal online: $104 per year

The New York Times online: $208 per year.

Now:where do the people who have to make decisions - the really big decisions, on things that matter - go when they need information, not just apolitically slanted version of the news? When they need the best reporting of facts? The Wall Street Journal? Or the New York Times?

No brainer?

Only trouble is, the obvious still doesn't work for some people. Can you say "stupid"?

I knew you could.

Brent said...

Oh, and @pbAndj,

There is not a serious person alive today who does not recognize that the reporting in the Wall Street Journal is waves more in-depth and yes, fair and balanced, than the New York Times reporting is.

Say what you will about Murdoch and Fox News - go ahead.

But no serious, thinking person disparages the WSJ's reporting.

That begs the question - are you man (or woman) enough to stand up and say that you recognize that fact?

Or is it all about politics to you, every fact in service to your political ends and whims, whether by spinning or outright lying?

Answer the questions, and we'll know if you are a serious, thinking person.

Or not. (most of us have our suspicions . . . )

Corky Boyd said...

Rather than use up your 20 free accesses, try this simple method:

Copy and paste the lede (first three lines from the Times story) to Google and do a search. Often the story has been picked up in toto by other papers who subscribe the the NY Times News Service. You can read it there at no cost. Has worked for me with the Times of London (subsription only) where I can find a free version in the Australian.

Incidently, the Washington Post has said it will not erect a paywall, so go there. Often its reporting on international stories is more accurate. I have also found the Post increasingly publishes stories the Times chooses to suppress. There seems to be some friction between the two papers, and helping them hurts the Times.

KLDAVIS said...

Unlimited access to the front pages + free article reads via Twitter/Facebook/Blog links = no practical wall.

1) Open front page, section landing page, etc.

2) Copy link to article you want to read.

3) Paste in your dummy blog/twitter/facebook feed.

4) Click link.

Someone will likely aggregate steps 1-3 with RSS or something similar. If this happens the net effect for Times traffic will be negative, as it disincentivizes visiting the home pages to click through to stories.