The New York Times Paywall Might Make Americans Dumber.

I remember when Le Monde was unavailable as an online version while I was an undergraduate in college some years ago.  If you tried to search for it, you were met with a splash page containing its logo and the subscription rate for its paper delivery.  Though I still don’t know a lick of French, I’m glad I have the option to access its fine reporting after a series of speedy clicks.

 

What’s no longer free: The New York Times.   I know we’ve had a good season or so to really get used to all the paywall features on the site, but I’m thinking about the impact this may have on the new generation of scrubs that live out here in this jobless world.

 

I remember in the mighty heyday of AOL 7.0, prior to the onslaught of accessible internet information, the NYT already had a paywall version in place.  However, it affected readership, and by the early 2000s, accessing articles online was free.  Now, I know there are entire sites dedicated to skirting around the 20 article/monthly limit on the site, and others which just point you to BBC and Al-Jazeera.  I just doubt the less Google-y inclined…well, let’s just say they won’t be reading Bittman anytime soon.

 

No, I don’t have any hard facts for you.  It’s just a guess: asking for money to read online news during a recession will lead to a decline in readership.  I’m on tumblr, I know how many of these hipsters rely on their NYT:Lifestyles newsfeed for quote posts in between some Funny or Die videos.

 

All I can say is that folks have strayed from the Sunday paper in bed – that’s for stable 30somethings with open-brick facade bedroom walls, and cushioned headboards.  We are not of that clan.

 

Paywalls are particularly heartbreaking once I see them pop up at sites I frequent.  (I remember feeling a bit forlorn when HULU decided it needed one in 2010…) Particularly around reporting, online information should be free.  The truth should be free.  The least number of obstacles should be presented toward the truth.  Hypervocal cites this entry from the Pulitzer Center blog, and poses a very good question:  ” ‘Anything that can safeguard the quality of journalism is welcome.’ But what exactly are we safeguarding?

 

Yeah, NYT.  Are y’all hard up and RecessionFRESH, too?

 

UPDATE: Some hard facts from our friends at GIGAOM.  (but don’t click around too too much.  GIGAOM has a paywall, too.)

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