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Section :: Rants and Raves

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Will You Pay For News Online?

The Big Times Experiment
Friday 2 July 2010.

Today, the UK’s well-known Times newspaper started charging people to read online. But will they pay...?

Let me say right up front that I won’t. The Times was, until recently, one of the online news sources which I read fairly often. Others includes British newspapers such as The Guardian and The Telegraph, American papers such as The New York Times and Washington Post, broadcasters such as CNN and The BBC - and a whole bunch of bloggers.

When The Times announced, a couple of months ago, that it would soon be charging, I stopped reading it. That is, I stopped when it was still free. The reason being that I asked myself whether I thought the Times was so much better than all the free sources of news that I’d be prepared to pay. The answer I came up with was a decisive No. So, like the habitual smoker who finally decides to quit, I did it there and then rather than deferring the pain.

Maybe other Times readers will be less ready to give up the habit. I’d be frankly amazed, however, if very many of them get into the habit of paying for the pleasure. In the old days, the character of a newspaper was often defined by its columnists. these days some of the best columnists don’t write for newspapers. They write their own Blogs, unfettered by the requirements of the editor and proprietor.

I’ll keep my eye on The Times’ bold experiment. But I can’t say I’ll miss it.

More from the BBC:

Or, if you wish to support The Times financially, you can read it online at the usual place:

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