The New York Times' masthead is displayed in front of the midtown headquarters on December 7, 2009 in New York City.
The New York Times' masthead is displayed in front of the midtown headquarters on December 7, 2009 in New York City. - 
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Jeremy Hobson: One week is all it took for a Canadian hacker to figure out and publish a way to avoid paying for the New York Times online. The Times has started charging frequent web users.

Marketplace's Gregory Warner reports now on whether Times readers are really ready to pay up.

Gregory Warner: If you know how to install an extension on your Internet browser -- if those words even make sense to you -- then you are nerdy enough to hack into the New York Times paywall and read articles online for free.

Josh Benton: It's less about how nerdy a user is and more about how exposed he or she is to the work of other nerds.

This is Josh Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard.

Warner: So what's the New York Times banking on, that its readers are just not smart enough or too underinformed? That's not...

Benton: Not very Timesian?

Warner: No.

Benton: I think the number of people who are going to decide 'I want to create some sort of hack in my browser' is going to be pretty small. It's not going to be zero, but I think most people will make a decision to either pay up or just go to another website.

Because -- and this is the guilt-trip model that you, public radio listener, know well -- people like to get their news for free. But they can sometimes be shamed into paying for it.

Benton: Shame, or, you know, paying money for services. Because they value the content that the Times produces.

Could be the slogan for a New York Times pledge drive.

I'm Gregory Warner, bringing you this story -- at no extra charge! -- on Marketplace.

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Follow Gregory Warner at @radiogrego