Paying for What Was Free: Lessons from the New York Times Paywall

1 Department of Psychology, Columbia University , New York, New York.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (Impact Factor: 2.18). 10/2012; 15(12). DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0251
Source: PubMed


Abstract In a national online longitudinal survey, participants reported their attitudes and behaviors in response to the recently implemented metered paywall by the New York Times. Previously free online content now requires a digital subscription to access beyond a small free monthly allotment. Participants were surveyed shortly after the paywall was announced and again 11 weeks after it was implemented to understand how they would react and adapt to this change. Most readers planned not to pay and ultimately did not. Instead, they devalued the newspaper, visited its Web site less frequently, and used loopholes, particularly those who thought the paywall would lead to inequality. Results of an experimental justification manipulation revealed that framing the paywall in terms of financial necessity moderately increased support and willingness to pay. Framing the paywall in terms of a profit motive proved to be a noncompelling justification, sharply decreasing both support and willingness to pay. Results suggest that people react negatively to paying for previously free content, but change can be facilitated with compelling justifications that emphasize fairness.

Download full-text


Available from: Jonathan Cook, Oct 02, 2015
293 Reads
  • Review of Economics and Statistics 11/1954; 36(4). DOI:10.2307/1925895 · 2.66 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We explored the effect of attribute framing on choice, labeling charges for environmental costs as either an earmarked tax or an offset. Eight hundred ninety-eight Americans chose between otherwise identical products or services, where one option included a surcharge for emitted carbon dioxide. The cost framing changed preferences for self-identified Republicans and Independents, but did not affect Democrats' preferences. We explain this interaction by means of query theory and show that attribute framing can change the order in which internal queries supporting one or another option are posed. The effect of attribute labeling on query order is shown to depend on the representations of either taxes or offsets held by people with different political affiliations.
    Psychological Science 01/2010; 21(1):86-92. DOI:10.1177/0956797609355572 · 4.43 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study examined the impact of membership fees on consumer attitude and purchase behavior. Subjects participated in a computerized simulated shopping experiment, and chose between three competing videotape rental stores, receiving feedback about purchase utility on each occasion. Manipulations included the presence or absence of an initial membership-fee requirement at the dominant store and the timing of a lowering of that store's utility to the same level as that offered by a competing establishment. Store loyalty is shown to vary as a function of membership fees and utility changes in a manner consistent with hypotheses generated from prospect, escalation-of-commitment, cognitive-dissonance, and self-perception theories. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Psychology and Marketing 01/1998; 15(1):41-58. DOI:10.1002/(SICI)1520-6793(199801)15:13.0.CO;2-N · 1.13 Impact Factor
Show more