With the NYT paywall looming, I subscribed to the weekend editions (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at a steep discount. Whew! I’m safe. What I really want to do, though, is get an iPad and read it that way. Of course the new ones are sold out everywhere. I’m ready to lose my piles of paper in favor of a lighter cleaner less cluttered approach.
I have no objections to the NYT pay wall. They’re conducting it sensibly, without forcing people to stay away from their content. You basically get to read 20 pieces a month before they ask you to pay, but it’s way more complicated; many have already circulated instructions on how to get around the paywall by using Twitter, FaceBook and search engines like Google.
The NYT site will still get traffic. Staci Kramer believes the NYT’s biggest problem is public perception. Felix Salmon thinks the paywall will be bad for bloggers; Freakonomics has already left. Simon Dumenco defends pay walls:
Dependable, in-depth, big-picture journalism — as opposed to the reactionary, piecemeal, out-of-context “aggregation” practiced by way too many bloggers — is an increasingly rare and precious commodity. Last summer, a Pew Center study concluded that “blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press — and primarily just a few outlets within that — for their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four — the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post — accounted for fully 80% of all links.”
But we’re all so busy playing a game of bloggy, social-media-enabled telephone that we’re forgetting the primary sources — the dwindling number of journalistic organizations left on the world stage that do actual, honest-to-God reporting — of “news.” Which makes knee-jerk bashing of attempts to enable reader support for such news-gathering seem not only knee-jerk petty, but profoundly myopic.
The folks at the Onion approve.