Times Publisher: Paywall Freeloaders Will Be ‘Mostly High School Kids,’ Unemployed

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.: “Can people go around the system? The answer is yes”

Since the New York Times announced its paywall would be launched globally on March 28, several strategies for those looking to beat the system have emerged.

But Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the Times publisher, doesn’t appear to be too concerned about the inevitable freeloaders.

Also read: How Much Money Can the Times Make From its Paywall?

“Can people go around the system?” Sulzberger Jr. asked at a breakfast hosted by the Paley Center for Media in New York on Wednesday. “The answer is yes, just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and you grab a newspaper and keep running, you can read the Times for free.”

Sulzberger Jr. continued his self-Q+A (transcript via Forbes):

“Is it going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of the New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis? No. I don’t think so. It’ll be mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work.”

He paused, then added: “I can’t believe I just said that.”

You may recall Sulzberger once likened the Times paywall strategy to a “drug dealer” model. “Three hits are free, then we’ll make you pay,” the Times Company chairman joked last year.

The company, though, doesn’t find too much humor in @FreeNYTimes, a Twitter feed that uses a script to post links to all of the paper’s online articles so followers can read more than the 20 articles per month allowed by the Times, “because you came from Twitter!”

“We have asked Twitter to disable this feed as it is in violation of our trademark,” a Times spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

She added: “As we have said previously, as with any paid product, we expect that there will be some percentage of people who will find ways around our digital subscriptions.  We will continue to monitor the situation but plan no changes to the programming or paywall structure in advance of our global launch on March 28th.”

[Photo via the New York Times]