The Redemption of the New York Times Paywall

Friday, July 29, 2011


In January of 2010, facing declining subscriptions and ad revenue, the New York Times announced it would be implementing a paywall. Critics called the decision counter intuitive, saying it would be the undoing of the paper. Reporter Seth Mnookin wrote about the paywall for New York Magazine this week.  He tells Brooke that it's actually exceeded even The Times' own expectations.

Comments [7]

JP from Connecticut

Seriously? There are that many people who don't know how to turn off javascript in their browser?

Aug. 02 2011 07:51 PM
Bob Cooper from Westport, CT

When the pay wall first went live I was reentering my password (on a blackberry) multiple times per day, and I sent in a complaint. I never heard back but within a week or two the problem went away, I believe they needed to define the cookies the correct way to remain persistent, I now only reenter the password after restarting the phone.
On another topic - I think the workaround mentioned above is an acceptable risk for the nytimes, it will never represent more than a small percentage of total sales (lost) similar to what happens when lending a music CD to a friend or giving a book away after reading it.

Jul. 31 2011 10:55 AM
Fred Leonard

The sound quality for this interview was unacceptable. It sounded like the guy was on a speakerphone. Couldn't somebody there, Brooke, a producer or an engineer, have told the guy to use a handset (or do whatever to get acceptable sound quality)?

Brooke: Sounds like you use the iPhone app. iOS has all sorts of quirks. Get an Android phone. Also, the reason you have to keep logging in to the New York Times website is probably because you keep clearing cookies. It hurts the guest's credibility as an expert that he blames the Times website for something he (and you) are doing. Get CCleaner. It's free program that let's you pick cookies you want to save and then clears the rest (plus lots of other junk files).

Jul. 31 2011 07:04 AM
Steve Worona from Montpelier, VT

Mnookin has it exactly right: "If you create a relatively frictionless environment for people to buy content, they buy it." There are certainly extremists on both sides. We have the tech-obsessed who create and exploit the loopholes and the greed-blinded who abuse their copyright monopoly with excessive fees. Their common theme is that there's no business model to be found in the middle. Maybe the Times is proving them both wrong. (Cue jingle.)

Jul. 30 2011 12:55 PM
Logan Waters from The Lovely New ersey

The NYT paywall is a technical joke.

There are a hundred ways to subvert it, but the easiest is to simply truncate the paywall hash at the end of the URL. For example:


Just swipe that away in your browser address bar, and enjoy as many articles as you want - for free.

The NYT reportedly spent millions on the software development of their paywall.

Either they are not serious about it, at all, or else are incredibly naive.

Jul. 30 2011 10:27 AM
clopha deshotel from bridgeport ct

After purchasing the hard copy of a newspaper, THE TENNESSEAN, due to the compelling front page headline about Adam and Eve being not "real," the article could not be found online about a week later. It was already behind a pay wall. My desire was to use it for academic purposes, so this story was very helpful. But I already spent money to get the content of the article - so do I own it and can I add value to it by including it in a college essay project? Will have to see as this goes into uncharted areas.

Jul. 30 2011 07:29 AM
Phil Mastman from Cincinnati, OH

Mr. Mnookin's analysis of the NYTimes' slowing decline of home delivery subscriptions is flawed. Inexplicably, The Times charges more for a digital subscription alone than it does for Sunday-only home delivery subscription that also includes a free digital subscription.

I thought that the whole point of digital delivery was to reap the cost savings that come from not having to print a physical newspaper and expend the resources to hand deliver that paper to my driveway. If the Times is saving money by delivering the paper digitally, they are certainly not passing those savings on to their subscribers. This must be the Time's "present and future business model for monetizing the newspaper industry".

HOT TIP: Today, I called the Times customer service department to cancel my Sunday-only home delivery subscription because it was just getting too expensive at around $400 per year. The customer service rep offered to continue my subscription for six months at half price. I said OK. When you try this, don't tell 'em I sent ya.

Jul. 29 2011 08:56 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.