For New York Times readers, fairness matters when it comes to paying for content

October 31, 2012
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

In a paper published today by Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking researchers found that New York Times readers who were led to believe the newspaper's paywall was motivated by financial need were generally supportive and willing to pay, while those who believed it was motivated by profit were generally unsupportive and unwilling to pay.

The article "Paying for What Was Free: Lessons from the Paywall," written by Jonathan Cook, Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, and Shahzeen Attari, Assistant Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University-Bloomington is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social .

An conducted shortly before the newspaper introduced its paywall found that most readers planned not to pay for access. The same people were surveyed 10 weeks later and the researchers randomly assigned half to read a justification for the paywall based on financial need and half to read a justification for the paywall based on profit motive. They found that most readers did not pay for content. Readers devalued the newspaper, visited its website less frequently, and used loopholes to read New York Times content. However, the researchers also found that readers' attitudes and behavior could be changed by providing a compelling justification that emphasizes fairness. Those readers who were given the justification for the paywall based on financial need said they were more likely to pay for New York Times content.

Explore further: Globe and Mail starts charging for online news

Related Stories

European papers fear loss of readers with paywalls

May 3, 2011

Europe's troubled newspaper industry is keeping a close eye on the outcome of experiments by English language sites to charge for content but is reluctant to install paywalls for fear of losing readers.

Canada's Globe and Mail to erect online paywall

May 11, 2012

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper has announced plans for an online paywall to generate extra revenue and has also asked staff to take unpaid leave amid an ongoing slide in advertising income.

News Corp to start Australian paywall

October 20, 2011

The Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation will begin charging for online content, the firm said on Thursday, with its flagship national broadsheet to move behind a paywall from next week.

New York Times suffers quarterly loss

July 21, 2011

The New York Times Company said Thursday it lost $120 million in the second quarter, as income from digital subscriptions failed to make up for a steep write-down of its print newspaper assets.

Recommended for you

Computer engineers boost app speeds by more than nine percent

September 26, 2016

Researchers from North Carolina State University and Samsung Electronics have found a way to boost the speed of computer applications by more than 9 percent. The improvement results from techniques that allow computer processors ...

Hyperloop pushes dream of low-cost futuristic transport

September 23, 2016

Is it a plane, is it a train? No, say supporters of Hyperloop, a futuristic mode of transport floated by Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk that promises high-tech, high-speed and cheap travel over long distances.

First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

September 24, 2016

The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.