I had assigned a couple of readings from the New York Times to my students this week, and right before they were needed, the site fritzed and wouldn’t allow people to access them due to a “database upgrade.” Thankfully, I had back-up .pdf versions so I distributed them instead. Then, on the day of class, the reason for the change at their web site became clear:
What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.
“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.
Earlier in the week, I had them sign up for the free “Times Select” offered to .edu subscribers, but now that is no more—instead, there is free access to most content (except of course, that fat pile in the center of the twentieth century where most people would like to research).