January 27, 2010

Paying for Online Stories

As newspapers scramble for ways to make money, the New York Times has turned to a fee-for-service model for online readers--to begin in about a year.
New online columnist Robert Wright writes Jan. 26 about the possibilities of this fee system working and encourages the use of a "micropayments" fee system that would essentially charge article for article and directly bill to one of our already established accounts like iTunes.
Would this work for community newspapers?
The Times plans to allow readers to read for free if they come to an article via a blog or other referral. That seems too risky for community newspapers; one or two local bloggers could subscribe to the paper and then refer their readers to most of the articles.
A key to the Times' new fee system is that readers would get a number of "free" reads each month before they have to start paying or subscribing for the online service. I wonder if that would work well for community papers. Let readers get a taste of the paper each month and then, when they want more, they may be more likely to just pony up the subscription fee.

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