As a journalism major, I’ve been inundated with all of the talk about the death of print journalism and the struggle to survive in the digital landscape.
On March 28, the New York Times made a move that might signal what is to come in the new world of journalism and instant access to news. In an effort to try and control the one medium that has been destroying the newspaper business, the Times has installed a “paywall” for its online website, as readers get to look at 20 articles every four weeks for free before being charged for viewing the site.
Print subscribers of the Times will receive the digital membership as part of their current subscription at no additional cost, while non-subscribers can pay $15 every four weeks for unlimited online and smartphone content. Readers can also pay $20 for unlimited online access and the iPad tablet app or just pay $35 for an unlimited plan that includes the two previous options.
With people hesitant to pay for online news, this move could blow up in the face of the leader of American journalism. But in my opinion, I applaud the Times for making a bold move and seeing if this method can become a solution to the problem.
With casual users still being able to access the site for free and news-junkies paying a low-flat rate for unlimited content, I see this as a win-win for everyone involved. The paper can still get advertising with non-subscribers still allowed to view the site while also getting profits from online subscriptions.
When looking at the grand scheme of things, it is actually cheaper to get the unlimited online content. At $2 a day for the daily print subscription, it would cost $56 for a paper everyday in a four week span, compared to the highest unlimited plan at $35 for the same span of time for the online site content.
Now, I know there are the people who say, “I can get my news on some blog for free…why should I pay for something I can get free?” But keep in mind that the time and the work the writers at newspapers put in chasing down people for interviews and the long hours at the office finishing articles should be rewarded.
Journalism isn’t a profession you get into for the money, but think how much you would like not getting paid for your work just because someone can get it for free somewhere else.
The current state of newspapers reminds me a lot of the piracy issue that has plagued the music industry for the past decade. So before there’s a chance for the newspaper industry to fall into the pitfall that the music industry has fallen into, it’s good to see someone stepping up to try and come up with a solution instead of dwelling on the problem. n