He's a very ebullient proselytizer, but one who only sees the Times' money woes as cause for action not how we, the dear reader, access our news these days. He's completely off the mark. His name now goes in the column marked 'Spending money in the present to solve problems of the past,' along with Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson.
Some smarter people than Brill make some very good points though. Worth a read.
Steven Brill, long-time journalism entrepreneur and cofounder, Journalism Online:
I think it makes a lot of sense. My guess (actually not a guess because it is based on calculations using data from our Affiliates) is that this will produce about $100 million in annual revenue for the Times before too long. Plus, as Arthur [Sulzburger] rightly emphasizes, this will sustain the Times business model over the long term by eliminating the completely free alternative to its print product, while drawing in a global audience of now-paying digital readers. All in all, a smart, well-thought-out plan.
My only quibble is our data from our Affiliates’ experiences so far shows that it makes sense to give print subscribers a generous discount, but to charge them something, too. Our data shows that if, for example, the Times charged, say, $3.00 a month to print subscribers, they would actually get more sign-ups, or at least as many, as they will get offering it for free.
I think the packages make sense. My only worry is that the details may be a bit too complicated.
Yes, I’ll subscribe. More important, I bet my kids — in their twenties — will subscribe. But please stop calling it a wall. It’s not a wall. It’s a smart, flexible strategy that will produce a perfect blend of reader and advertising revenue. Walls turn people away and force a publisher to choose between advertising revenue and circulation revenue. This does neither.
Khoi Vinh said it best - What the NYT Pay Wall Really Costs.