NY Times strengthens its paywall

After celebrating its paywall’s one year birthday, The New York Times will cut free articles from 20 to 10 per month in order to lure more digital subscribers amid declining print sales, Bloomberg reported.

The change will take effect in April.

“This change will strengthen our ability to continue providing the world’s most insightful journalism today. It will also support the ongoing development of digital innovations and apps that make The Times an experience you won’t find anywhere else,” The Times said in a statement.

The New York Times stated that “the change provides us with an opportunity to convince another segment of our audience that what The Times has to offer is worth paying for.” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the change will affect “a relatively small number of people,” The Associated Press reported.

However, readers can still view The New York Times’ articles from links of Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and social media without paying as usual, or they can try to beat The New York Times paywall.

According to The State of the News Media 2012 report, conducted by The Pew Research Center and released this month, U.S. newspapers lost US$10 in print-advertising sales for every $1 gained online last year. The harsh environment has been great incentive for The New York Times Company to fortify its paywall.

The New York Times’s digital gains have not been enough to counterbalance its print losses, according to The WRAP News. Last year, The New York Times revenue decreased 2.8 percent to $643 million thanks to a 7.1 drop in advertising revenues, while its operating profit fell 4 percent to $106.7 million.

With approximately 454,000 paid online subscribers to The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Ken Doctor, Outsell Inc. senior analyst, told MarketWatch last month that the company’s success has taught the industry that its fear towards forcing people to pay for subscribing news is unnecessary: “I think what’s happened is that papers have learned that if you do a pay system wisely, you can do it without losing digital advertising.”

“Whether the paywall is the savior of the Times, or of journalism — or if it’s sufficient compensation for the secular decline in print media generally,” James Poniewozik, TIME’s Tuned In columnist wrote, “the new policy suggests they at least have enough confidence in the paywall to tighten its restrictions without fear it will isolate the paper or drive away too many readers, if they weren’t driven away already.”

More and more notable news publishers are planning to impose similar policies, including The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Providence Journal, the AP and The WRAP News noted.

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