Although details are scarce about The New York Times‘ decision to launch a metered pay model on its Web site next year, announced this morning, publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and New York Times Co. CEO Janet L. Robinson sent a memo to staff today explaining the impetus behind their decision.
As suspected, the reason behind the move is the search for an additional revenue stream, which Sulzberger and Robinson said, “will be an important part of our future.” They added:
“While digital advertising will continue to be the major contributor to our success on the Web, we expect that online subscription revenue will improve our ability to grow an important part of this business.”
As for the choice of a metered model versus, say, The Wall Street Journal‘s model requiring payment for full access to exclusive stories, Sulzberger and Robinson said the move will allow the Times to “remain a vibrant part of the search-driven Web, which has proven to be an integral reason for why we have become an industry leader in display advertising.” Who said Google News wasn’t good for something (ahem, Rupert Murdoch)?
Sulzberger and Robinson also addressed concern from critics recently — criticism which has reached a fever pitch since a New York magazine report surfaced over the weekend revealing the paper’s pay model plans a few days in advance. The execs admitted there are challenges ahead, and they are taking it slowly, planning to roll out the pay model a year from now. As they told their staff:
“Ultimately, we recognize that the success of our ideas will be judged by how well we execute this effort in the months to come. That is why we are waiting until 2011 to introduce this new system. To pursue this new approach requires that we utilize the full energy and intellect of all of you. All that work begins today…It will take time to get this right.”
Other things to take away from the memo: while the idea of joining a consortium with other publishers is still on the table, this metered model will be a “stand-alone product.”
In addition to the memo, the paper also published their own story today about their announcement, emphasizing their desire to take it slowly and get their pay model right. Executive editor Bill Keller, has reportedly “embraced the plan,” telling the Times:
“It underscores the value of what we do — trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing. And it gives us a second way to sustain that hard, expensive work, in addition to our healthy advertising revenue.”
After the jump, the full memo sent to Times staffers today.
Read more: The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site –New York Times