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New York Times Goes Behind Paywall: Media Reaction

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 28, 2011 at 12:06PM

With the NYT paywall looming, I subscribed to the weekend editions (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at a steep discount. Whew! I'm safe. What I really want to do, though, is get an iPad and read it that way. Of course the new ones are sold out everywhere. I'm ready to lose my piles of paper in favor of a lighter cleaner less cluttered approach.
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Thompson on Hollywood

With the NYT paywall looming, I subscribed to the weekend editions (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at a steep discount. Whew! I'm safe. What I really want to do, though, is get an iPad and read it that way. Of course the new ones are sold out everywhere. I'm ready to lose my piles of paper in favor of a lighter cleaner less cluttered approach.

I have no objections to the NYT pay wall. They're conducting it sensibly, without forcing people to stay away from their content. You basically get to read 20 pieces a month before they ask you to pay, but it's way more complicated; many have already circulated instructions on how to get around the paywall by using Twitter, FaceBook and search engines like Google.

The NYT site will still get traffic. Staci Kramer believes the NYT's biggest problem is public perception. Felix Salmon thinks the paywall will be bad for bloggers; Freakonomics has already left. Simon Dumenco defends pay walls:

Dependable, in-depth, big-picture journalism -- as opposed to the reactionary, piecemeal, out-of-context "aggregation" practiced by way too many bloggers -- is an increasingly rare and precious commodity. Last summer, a Pew Center study concluded that "blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press -- and primarily just a few outlets within that -- for their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four -- the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post -- accounted for fully 80% of all links."

But we're all so busy playing a game of bloggy, social-media-enabled telephone that we're forgetting the primary sources -- the dwindling number of journalistic organizations left on the world stage that do actual, honest-to-God reporting -- of "news." Which makes knee-jerk bashing of attempts to enable reader support for such news-gathering seem not only knee-jerk petty, but profoundly myopic.

The folks at the Onion approve.

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.