The New York Times plans to take its online content behind a paywall before the end of this month, the publisher has announced.
Casual visitors to the website should be unaffected, as drive-by readers will be granted 20 free stories a month. But from 28 March regular users will have to pay for access to content.
Canadian readers are being treated as guinea pigs and will be required to pay from today.
After accessing 20 free stories, readers will be asked to sign up for a four-week subscription, with access to the website and smartphone app costing $US15.
Tablet users will be asked to pay an additional $5 for the four-week package, while an “access all areas” membership will cost $Us35 for four weeks.
According to NY Times officials, the move will help the company to invest in content.
“Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend,” said Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of the NY Times Group.
The paper has tried and failed to launch a subscription model before, and the move could alienate readers that have grown used to free news content.
But the transition may be smoothed by the fact that the 20-story limit will be relaxed for links to the site from blogs and search engines. Visitors who have already reached their monthly access limit will be able to read an additional three stories a day via Google.