Yes, we’ll soon be charging for the newspaper online. No, we’re not charging for content
Next Thursday (March 18th) we will replace the Today’s Paper page on irishtimes.com with the epaper, which replicates online the experience of reading The Irish Times newspaper. For the next two weeks you can use the epaper on free trial. In my humble opinion, it’s a pretty nifty service, particularly for those of our users whose primary goal is to find out what’s in the paper.
So does this mean we’re now charging for content? No. Although we do already charge users for using certain services – archive and crosswords, for example – there is no change in the range of content which is free to access on the site.
However, as has been noted here before, some of the world’s largest media organisations, including News International and the New York Times, are planning to charge for their content in the near future. Like the Skibbereen Eagle and the Tsar, we’ll continue to keep a beady eye on this and will make our own strategic decisions accordingly at the right time.
What we are doing now, though, is charging for the experience of reading the newspaper. If you want to know exactly what articles were published and where in The Irish Times on a given day, the epaper provides that service (at, as we like to say, a very reasonable price).
This forms part of a broader strategy on our part to differentiate between the newspaper and the site. You can see that strategy in developments like the Life, Culture and Society sections launched last year, where we moved away from replicating the sections and supplements of the newspaper towards a thematic grouping of content more suitable for online users. It makes more sense for the user, and it also serves to get away from any perception that irishtimes.com is simply ‘The Irish Times on the web – for free’.