On Monday March 28, The New York Times announced that it would instill a pay wall into its online content. Content that readers used to receive for free from the paper’s website, on smartphones or tablet apps will now be charged as subscription packages. If the pay wall is successful for The New York Times, it could mean that future changes lay ahead for other newspapers as well.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher, announced the launch of the digital subscriptions and explained its parameters. Home delivery subscribers will have access to all of the Times content both online and on a cellular device. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also have full access to content. Yet non-subscribers will be required to pay 4-week packages based on the amount of content they wish to access. Additionally, readers will be limited to 20 Times articles a month if they don’t have an online subscription.
In my communications class Monday, we discussed the pay wall and what it might mean for the Times and the survival of other newspapers. My fellow classmates both argued in favor and against the pay wall, some saying that they wouldn’t pay for news content that used to be free, while others said they would be willing to begin paying because of the paper’s superior qualities.
The Times appears to be targeting long-time readers of the paper and readers who value and often read its content, and therefore are willing to pay the subscriptions. The new pay wall will certainly be a test of whether the Times will benefit financially and long-term from the online subscriptions, or lose readers to other publications.
If the pay wall is successful, other newspapers and news outlets may follow suit and charge for their content. Publications that cannot retain their readership after implementing similar pay walls may fail completely, since online advertisements are no longer sufficient sources of revenue. Free access to news online may soon become a thing of the past entirely, and although the Wall Street Journal has been charging readers for a while now, the success of the New York Times online subscriptions could be a big step forward for newspapers in an increasingly online and digital society.
By Dana Prainito
Moviegoers were graced with a glimpse into the world of journalism in April with the premiere of two top-notch press-centric films; State of Play and The Soloist respectively. The investigative reporting and journalistic flair of newspaper writers drive the two films. State of Play and Soloist are just the latest in a long line of movies centered on the cunning investigations pivotal to the newspaper world. Remember All the Kings Men? Citizen Kane? Or The Pelican Brief? While the most recent cinematic journalism adventures are far from the first to feature press writers, might they be two of the last?
As newspapers continue to search for new business models, the “Watchdog” function is changing or disappearing. New forms of social media have accelerated the public’s demand for news. Whereas reporters once had weeks to cover an in-depth story, the editorial calendar has shrunk significantly. Instead of investing in investigations guarding public interests, newspapers are forced by high print and distribution costs to watch over their pocketbooks.
Some of the best movies of this generation are marked by newspapers in some way. If newspapers continue the current downward spiral, it will definitely be reflected at theaters…but how much remains to be seen. Five years from now, Denzel Washington may be on stage accepting an Oscar for portraying a Twitter-er. Or M. Knight Shyamalan might be directing a horror flick about Facebook. Enjoy the likes of The Soloist and State of Play while you can. Journalism has been celebrated in our society for many, many years, but the changes on the printed page are usually reflected on the reel.