The New Yorker exemplifies a high society paper that chronicles commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. The paper has been going strong since 1925 and recently they have been working like fiends to make sure their website is brought up to modern standards. Not only do they have a new responsive design that makes it shine on computers, but now looks stellar on phones and tablets. In order to celebrate, they are giving away any new content they publish away for free and also are opening up their digital archives from 2007 to 2014.
In a statement on their blog the editorial staff said “Beginning this week, absolutely everything new that we publish—the work in the print magazine and the work published online only—will be unlocked. All of it, for everyone. Call it a summer-long free-for-all. Non-subscribers will get a chance to explore The New Yorker fully and freely, just as subscribers always have. Then, in the fall, we move to a second phase, implementing an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall. Subscribers will continue to have access to everything; non-subscribers will be able to read a limited number of pieces—and then it’s up to them to subscribe. You’ve likely seen this system elsewhere—at the Times, for instance—and we will do all we can to make it work seamlessly.”
So the New Yorker intends on borrowing a page out of the New York Times playbook to implement a paywall for all of their online content. This will make the majority of it be indexed on Google and used as reference by other online publications. Users will be able to read X articles per month for free and if they want to read more, they have to subscribe. This is likely why they are giving away everything for free right now, to drum up a new readership base and then try and get them to pay.
Jeff Howe, a professor of multimedia journalism at Northeastern University, called the new paywall strategy a good one. “Paywalls aren’t the silver bullet news outlets thought they would be back in the Jurassic period of the internet’s development, but a limited and intentionally leaky one becomes one of a bunch of revenue streams to staunch further declines, and maybe even help ward off that terrible vortex of losses leading to layoffs leading to readership declines leading to losses.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.