1. I’m much slower to click on a link to a news item, whether the link is in my Google News feed or posted by a member of one of my social networks. There’s a 20-article limit each month, see, after which point readers are required to pay for access.
2. I’m likely to scan NYTimes headlines and page fronts, then search elsewhere for articles about the issues that interest me.
3. I’m extremely unlikely–one might say ‘completely unlikely’–to post a link to a New York Times article that I think might interest members of my social networks.
In part, this change in my behavior is due to my own misconceptions about what the paywall means: As this letter to subscribers from publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. (warning: this link directs you to a New York Times article) notes, readers who come to NYTimes content through social networks like Twitter and Facebook will be able to read this content for free, regardless of whether they’ve reached their 20-article limit.
There is also, it turns out, a workaround. Mashable tells you how to climb over the paywall:
Readers who have surpassed the 20-article limit can also remove “?gwh=numbers” from the URL, clear their browser caches and/or switch browsers to get rid of the pop-up message and continue reading.
Which is nice to know, though it took me almost two full months to learn about the workaround; I imagine most casual NYTimes readers haven’t bothered to find out whether this sort of back door exists. (In fact, pageviews at the NYTimes site have decreased significantly, by somewhere between 5 and 15 percent.)
And here’s another side effect: if I’m less willing to click on a link to a news item, that means I’m less likely–even if marginally so–to click on non-NYTimes links, that means my pageviews for other news sites are also going to suffer, even if marginally. And if that marginal drop in page hits is common among users like me who rely heavily on Google News and social networks for news updates, then what might be marginal for individuals becomes significant in the aggregate.
When Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan a few weeks ago, my first impulse was to go directly to the New York Times. Instead, I went first to CNN’s news site, then to Al Jazeera. I had never before turned to Al Jazeera as a primary source for news about the Middle East, but their coverage of bin Laden’s assassination was so excellent that I’m now a loyal reader. That change in loyalty–from the New York Times to Al Jazeera–is a direct result of the NYTimes paywall. Thanks, Arthur Sulzberger.
- let’s show the Herald-Times what happens when they drop the paywall
- to the Bloomington Herald-Times: drop the paywall. now.
- In other news, I’m about to smack down the New York Times.
- a call for businesses to boycott the Bloomington Herald-Times
- the Bloomington Herald-Times doesn’t get this ‘social networking’ thing.