Why I won’t pay for the New York Times

March 22, 2011

I’m not going to repeat the excellent analyses of the new NYT paywall already written by John Gruber and Khoi Vinh. Do click over and read them, though. This is about why I, personally, refuse to participate. Please feel free to agree/disagree/contribute in the comments.

1. Digital costs more than print (which includes digital)
A single thing should cost less than a single thing plus another thing, right? When you go shopping, you don’t pay less for the shirt and the pants than if you just bought the shirt. And remember, these are virtual pants – no one had to ship them anywhere. The lack of logic here astounds me, and reminds me of an argument that I unfortunately can’t recall the source of (maybe Mr. Magazine or Rex Hammock? Tell me if you know): why get high and mighty about the “value” of content now when we’ve been shilling it for cheap (and continue to do so) in the form of subscriptions for years?

The cheapest digital subscription works out to $3.75 a week. If I get the New York Times delivered to, um, zip code 90210 on weekdays, it’s $3.70 a week – and includes unlimited digital.

2. It’s too confusing
$15 for the website and smartphone app. $20 for the website and tablet app. $35 for all three. And these prices are for four-week periods, not for a month.

Don’t want the smartphone app? Well, you have to pay for it anyways. Use multiple computers (as most of us do)? The plan seems to offer access from unlimited devices (which begs the question, why not share a subscription with your friends?). Oh, and all that money? It doesn’t include the Crosswords app. And you can have access to 100 (but no more!) articles from the archives every four weeks. (Plus, hint? You don’t need the tablet app. Just read the website in Safari.)

3. The ads are still there
And I would expect them to be on the website. But on the smartphone app? I love the New York Times iPhone app – I use it a lot, especially as you can easily download articles to read them offline, such as on the subway or a plane – and I’ve long wished to be able to pay to get rid of the ad, as it takes up valuable reading space on such a small screen. (Plus, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything other than a house ad anyways. The iPhone ad is hardly helping with revenue problems.)

4. It’s too expensive
I want to support the New York Times – I really do. And I know it’s priced at the level of a weekly latte, and that the US dollar is even a bargain right now. But [cue deep movie narrator voice] in a world where most online content is free, and print content isn’t very expensive either – and with all the problems mentioned above – I don’t want to pay out of principle.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one. There are too many ways to get around the paywall, for starters. And too many paywall-free alternatives to read. Honestly? I don’t think this is going to last.

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One Response to “Why I won’t pay for the New York Times”

  1. ElenaSC Says:

    I totally agree!
    Great post! We should make things easier…..that’s the whole point, right?


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