New York Times Charges Web Readers: Whistleblower Wondering

May 8, 2011
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A few months ago, the publisher of my beloved New York Times issued

A few months ago, the publisher of my beloved New York Times issued A Letter to Our Readers, which presumably includes many Whistleblower readers.

Non-subscribers to The New York Times will no longer be permitted to use the Times website without limit. I always wondered why they gave it away for free. I have paid my fair share for the past several decades as I wanted the ink and newsprint version in my hands every morning. The Times internet version has been an all-you-can-eat news smorgasbord, where everyone was invited for free. If you build it, and it’s free, they will come. And they did.

Now, frequent freeloaders will have to pay $15 for a month’s subscription to the Times website, still a bargain to gain access to great reporting and hyperpartisan liberal columnists that raise my blood pressure several times weekly. The first 20 articles accessed from the website are gratis. Once you click on article #21, you will be greeted by an invitation to pony up. (Times articles accessed through search engines are not counted toward the 20 article limit, but there are restrictions here as well.)

This gives me an idea.

Why should I be handing out weekly Whistleblower masterpieces for free? I would publish my weekly blog stats here, but I don’t want to provoke envy from überbloggers Kevin Pho and Val Jones, who are racing feverishly to catch up to me. (Just a joke guys. Please don’t retaliate and shut me down!) I put plenty of sweat into these weekly posts and receive only an intangible reward. There is no advertising on the site, and no charge for access. Why am I leaving money on the table?

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I was considering asking readers how much they would pay for Whistleblower access, but I demurred as I feared the responses. Here were some proposals that were meandering in my mind.

  • Free access to readers who offer laudatory comments
  • Charge a contingency fee to plaintiffs’ lawyers. My fee would be contingent on the reasonableness of their comments
  • Honor system – pay me what you think the post was worth
  • Readers’ Reward – I pay readers for every new follower they deliver
  • Self-censorship fee – I charge readers who use any of the following 5 adjectives to describe my posts: Absurd, Moronic, Greedy, Idiotic or Jealous
  • Status Quo – Charge nothing and be grateful that anyone invests time to stop in and hear the weekly Whistle.

I hope that readers find their time here worthwhile. If not, contact me and I will be happy to provide you with a full refund.