The Gray Lady Wants Your Money

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A 1895 Ad. Times have changed.

After extensive testing on the Canadians, The New York Times launched its dreaded paywall today! The gray lady now requires non-subscribers to fork over fifteen bucks a month for digital content. Bwog had lotsa questions, so we talked to the trusty keepers of information, Columbia librarians.

According to Journalism librarian, Chris Ergunay, NYT subscriptions—current and historical—  come from a variety of vendor subscription arrangements (ProQuest, Factiva, etc.). Columbia libraries will continue to offer these resources, some with permalinks, to all Columbians and even alums (we know you’re out there). But don’t expect the NYT layout. Unforunately, Ergunay adds, there isn’t an academic library subscription for the NYT in website format available at the moment. ProQuest Historical Newspapers does have page maps of NYT but only for issues printed from 1851-2007, not for more recent years. Depending on how all this goes, the CCSC Policy Committee will reevaluate the amount of paper copies it orders.

Still, as you’ve probably heard, there are loads of loopholes to the porous paywall—some even used by NYTimes writers! Scandalous! According to the Times news release, “readers who come to the Times articles through links from search [arrivals from Google are capped though], blogs [us!] and social media like Facebook and Twitter, will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly limit.” Of course people will just set up Twitter accounts to tweet every news story everyday. Despite all the attempts to scam the system, Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. remains unfazed. He claims “mostly high-school kids and people out of work” will try to circumvent the paywall. Seems kinda optimistic…

Without getting too Core crazy here, the great paywall predicament does raise interesting moral questions. Since the Times intentionally left holes in the wall, is it really unethical to take advantage of them? Or is NYT just hoping you’ll be generous. Free linking makes you popular, but money makes you rich. A Time (yep, without the “s”) blogger offers an all-too relevant example: cheese tasting. When you’re gorging yourself on Westside cheese, where’s the line between sampling and scrounging?

Mauve reader via wikimedia.

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  1. Honest question to the author  

    Did you learn about the Grey Lady moniker from other blogs about the paywall or had you actually heard it beforehand? I'm a longtime paper-tucked-under-arm reader, and I've never heard the term

  2. Anonymous  

    I don't know where the line between sampling and scrounging is for Westside cheese, but I assure you I cross it daily.

  3. insider

    the times is trying to build its print circulation by giving the value added component to print subs, not the other way around. Union contracts and press overhead is fixed, and declining circs dont help, there. Print still provides the bulk of revenue for the Grey Lady, increasing circ is most important.

    Don't forget, it's still your grandfather's medium, run by people who think like your grandparents and their friends.

  4. Anonymous  

    i wanna know about Anthony Johnson

  5. ...  

    wow. all you have to do is clear cookies. my mom knows how to do that.

    i say circumvent away. this is an incredibly annoying model. if everyone starts doing it, it means that every periodical will have some annoying shit that is uniquely annoying in its own way. a myriad of obnoxious business models popping a myriad of "free articles left" warnings, billing pages, billing errors, clicky clicky typey typey waste of time horseshit getting in the way of cross-periodical newsreading which is what makes the internet the greatest damn news delivery device there ever was.

    so uh, with that in mind, people in the world of the internet are conditioned to paying a flat fee for access to everything. until the periodicals form an independent association that collects a reasonable fee that gets me access to all newspapers (and divies up that fee based on what i actually look at), i'm just going to ignore these stupid attempts at complicating my life.

    yes, that means that captain sulzburger needs to come to an agreement with the thunder from downunder and the rest of the lot. deal with it, cos setting up your own paywalls outsources the job of making your periodicals appear as one, which is yours, to me. and i'm not gonna do it...

  6. what I don't understand  

    is why people believe the NYT should be free? Seriously, they act like the print version was just given away, like those free papers in the subway, before the advent of the Internet. The NYT has always cost $$$; the last few years are not the norm, but just a minor exception to the rule. Online advertising is not enough to sustain publications, so they will eventually return to the paid content, most likely subscription-based, model. Perhaps people will pay by story instead of paper, the same way we now buy songs on iTunes by song, not album.

  7. also,

    lincoln is sponsoring free unlimited access for people who click their ad that pops up before some of the articles. maybe they are using your email address for something, but who cares.

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