Walls come tumbling... up

The great debate about the future of online journalism continues. When Rupert Murdoch reversed his previous stance last year and decided to charge for his newspapers' websites, it was widely deemed a short-sighted mistake by a lot of people who know very little about business. Now, though, the New York Times - both a bigger deal online and a newspaper more beloved of lefty internet types than any of Murdoch's - is going paid-for too.

The new 'paywall' - which will just be in the US and Canada for now - is pretty complicated. Users can read 20 articles a month for free, or pay $15 a month for full access to the website and a smartphone app; or, $20 a month for access to the website and the iPad app. You have to pick one, it seems, and buy the other separately - getting the iPad app doesn't also pay for the iPhone app, which seems a little silly.

To complicate matters further - but maintain the New York Times' role in the 'digital conversation' - views of articles won't count towards users' 20 per month if they click through from Twitter or Facebook. That's probably sensible, given the reputation hit Murdoch titles like The Times have taken from people sharing links to their articles on Twitter that people without subscriptions can't click through to.

But it also creates a loophole that has been rapidly exploited: a new @freeNYTimes Twitter feed is providing a link to every NYT story, letting you find a way past the 20-a-month limit if you can be bothered. It was reported earlier this week that the Times had asked Twitter to take this account down, but it turned out they just objected to its use of their logo.

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