I think this is how it’s going to have to be if there’s any future for on-line content. According to Gawker.com, which sources a Bloomberg article, the New York Times is considering charging a subscription fee, perhaps only $5 or so, to read its content. This follows news that very popular (and very good) on-line music service, Pandora.com will allow users to stream music for up to 40 hours a month, and anything above that will come with a flat $.99 fee for the rest of the month.
I’ve mentioned the problems with whole freeconomy stuff before, and I think that the NYT is doing the right thing here. Of course, people want things for free; who doesn’t? And if things are offered for free, it’s awfully difficult to rely on people to just give you money for it. But the reality is that people ought to be rewarded for their intellectual work, and if that means that a subscription fee is required, then so be it.