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Can paid content save newspapers? For many newspapers, there is good reason to be skeptical.

But trying to get readers to pay for content is a necessary move and naturally, major dailies like The New York Times are having an easier go of it.

The Times has built up a paid digital subscriber base approaching 500,000, and it's now apparently ready to turn the screws in an attempt to up that figure. How? By reducing the number of free articles non-subscribers can read in any given month.

Today, the newspaper announced that starting in April, The Times' paywall will permit readers access to 10 free articles per month. At the moment, the limit is 20. After the limit is reached, non-subscribers are asked to purchase a subscription. A subscription that provides web and smartphone app access costs $15 per month; those wanting web, smartphone and tablet access pay as much as $35 each month. Currently, thanks to a special offer, new subscribers can pay 99 cents for the first month for any package.

According to The Times, "This change will strengthen our ability to continue providing the world’s most insightful and investigative reporting in journalism today, as well as support the ongoing development of digital innovations and apps that make The Times an experience you won’t find anywhere else."

It should be noted that The New York Times paywall will still look more like a payfence after the reduced free article limit goes into effect. Readers who reach NYTimes.com through a link that's been shared via email or a social network will still be able to read the article free of charge, even if they've exceeded the 10 article per month limit. And smartphone and tablet app users will still be able to access content in the Top News section at no cost.

Patricio Robles

Published 20 March, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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