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Los Angeles Times begins charging for online content

Jeff Tyler Mar 2, 2012

Bob Moon: Remember when you used to pay the paperboy? Well, today, the Los Angeles Times is joining a growing trend to make you pay for online access, following in the footsteps of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. It will start charging for certain content it’s placing behind what’s known as a pay wall.

But can it really deliver the dollars the financially strapped paper needs? Here’s Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler.

Jeff Tyler: The New York Times is the online model others want to imitate. It locked some online content behind a pay wall, and still attracted almost 400,000 paid subscribers.

Sarah Barry James is with SNL Kagan, a research firm focusing on media. She says the New York Times pay wall won’t be its salvation.

Sarah Barry James: It’s by no means a silver bullet for the company. The revenues that they are earning from their digital pay wall are not making up for the print revenues that they are losing.

Nonetheless, even smaller papers are doing it. The publisher Gannett recently said it would introduce pay walls at 82 of its regional papers.

Ken Doctor is a media analyst for Outsell. He says regional papers haven’t seen inspiring results from pay walls.

Ken Doctor: They’re not seeing a lot of new sign-ups in terms of new customers.

Online readers of the L.A. Times won’t be locked out completely. Each month, readers can access 15 articles on the website for free.

I’m Jeff Tyler, for Marketplace.

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