Nisenholtz: Paywall part of New York Times strategy to ‘manage the link economy’

The New York Times plans to implement its much-anticipated, much-debated paywall Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

Hours before, Martin Nisenholtz, the Times’ senior vice president for digital operations, spoke to the Newspaper Association of America convention in Dallas.

In his talk, called “the Web of managed links,” Nisenholtz described why content publishers must control how their content is shared so that they don’t simply boost the value of aggregators and new digital platforms. The paywall is part of that strategy at the Times, he said.

A live blog of his talk is posted below. Some of the highlights:

  • The idea behind the “link economy,” Nisenholtz said, is that both content creators and aggregators benefit. But that’s a fiction: “Platforms win in Web 2.0,” he said.
  • News publishers must create the equivalent of Hulu rather than allowing their content to be aggregated by others. That’s why the Times has invested in Ongo, a paid aggregation service.
  • Services like Ongo won’t succeed if there are other free options for the same content. The Times hopes that its paywall catalyzes the industry to exercise more control over how its content is used. And in doing so, publishers can capture some of the value that is now mostly going to aggregators and platforms.
  • Nisenholtz objected to an audience member saying that publishers need to “lock down” their content. “We’re not saying … that we don’t want to be part of this swirling, global conversation or that Twitter is bad or anything like this,” he said.
  • There is no “Plan B” should the paywall not work, Nisenholtz said. The Times will adjust the paywall as needed so that advertising is seen by enough people but the content is not so freely available that no one will pay.

The talk was live-streamed if you’d like to watch it yourself.

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