Starting this past Monday, March 28, The New York Times has begun charging online users who read more than 20 articles per month for digital access to the newspaper. Because of the on-campus readership system arranged with the Times by the Quality of Student Life Committee (QSLC), Boston College faculty, students and administrators are eligible to receive a 50 percent discount off individual online subscriptions. Individual print subscribers will still have unlimited access to online content.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., The New York Times publisher, explained the new policy in a letter to online readers.
“The launching of our digital subscription model will help ensure that we can continue to provide you with the high-quality journalism and substantive analysis that you have come to expect from the Times,” the letter read.
In the digital age, print newspaper readership has dropped to an all-time low, forcing many companies to cut back on spending and look for new sources of revenue. While digital advertising is a significant source of income for the Times, Sulzberger said that “the introduction of digital subscriptions is an investment in our future. It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to strengthen our ability to continue our journalistic mission.”
In September of 2005, the Times began charging $49.95 per year for online subscriptions to columns and archives, leaving some website content free of charge. Two years later, in September of 2007, the company began offering totally free content, a policy that has remained in place until this past Monday.
The new policy offers three subscription plans to potential customers. To access the website and the smartphone application, users will have to pay $15 every four weeks. For access to the website and the tablet application, users will have to pay $20 every four weeks. The final plan permits unlimited access to all digital forms of the Times, and costs $35 every four weeks. Currently, all three plans are being offered for only 99 cents for the first four weeks. There is no digital subscription option for access to the website only.
Without subscriptions, online visitors will still be able to read up to 20 articles per month, as well as access the NYtimes.com front page and section fronts.
In light of the new changes, Sulzberger ended his letter to online readers by reiterating the mission of The New York Times to bring high-quality news to all of its readers, in whatever form they may choose.