On Rupert Murdoch's 'Times' Paywall

One of the media's most venerable figures launches a truly daring experiment

It's a radical approach. You go to the home page of the Times of London, and you see something like this (click for larger):


But if you then click on any headline or story, this is what you see:

You get absolutely nothing without signing up for paid service. No first-paragraph tease (a la the WSJ), no "metered" service of so many free stories per month (a la the FT), not even any Google search results on the contents of the story. I mentioned in my "Google and the News" story that some news organizations were working with Google to be sure that their articles would still be indexed, even if behind a paywall. The Times has (I am told) worked with Google to be sure that the stories will not appear in search results, from Google or anyone else.

It is a gutsy move. Will it work? "Work" in the sense of bolstering the paper's combo of print and paid-online revenues? I have no idea. But I'm glad Murdoch's trying, for reasons laid out in that Google+News story. In the long run, the tech people I interviewed were sure that customers would pay for online news info. In the short run, no one is really sure which payment system will be the right one. The only way to find out is by trial and error. "The three most important things any newspaper can do now are experiment, experiment, and experiment," Google's chief economist, Hal Varian, said in the story. Rupert Murdoch is doing just that.