The New York Times sent a press release out today announcing the introduction of a paid content model, starting in 2011. This metered payment model will allow users a limited amount of free access per month. Once you've viewed more articles than the Times is willing to give away, you'll have to either pay or wait until the new month.
Home delivery print subscribers will still get full, free access to NYTimes.com, so the three of you who still read physical papers won't get screwed. When it first came out that the Times would be announcing a paid model, I didn't think it would be nearly this reasonable. A metered pay model is a perfectly fair way to distribute media content. Users can still stumble upon the paper and read it for free, but if they want to make a habit of it they'll have to pay.
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The tech blogs are wasting no time in connecting this to Apple's big media event next week. The tablet is expected to be announced then, and a bunch of print media companies are poised (we believe) to launch content for it. This announcement could be a prelude to the New York Times: Tablet Edition.