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Surprising Reaction To NYT Layoffs: 32% Of Commenters Say ‘We’ll Pay!’

s-NYT-BUILDING-PAN-largeYesterday afternoon the New York Times announced it would be cutting 100 newsroom jobs, about 8% total, by the end of the year. To do so the paper would first be “offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily.” The layoff announcement reportedly took the newsroom by surprise (despite Bill Keller’s continuing dire pronouncements about the state of the Times), it also apparently put the scare into NYT.com readers.

“I want to pay for my online use of the New York Times. I read the site multiple times a day. I can’t imagine life without it. Why oh why can’t somebody come up with a good way to get this money out of the hundreds of thousands of readers who would gladly pay for the content? Figure it out now! I have my credit card ready.
— Anne Hills ”

Richard Perez-Pena’s Media Decoder post about the layoffs went up at 2:49pm yesterday, and as of this posting 502 people have commented on it. What is most striking about the response is how many people volunteered to pay for access to the NYT.com. By my count, of the 507 comments 167 people offered to pay for access. A number of people complained about the fact they have in the past tried to pay for access and were not able to. And more than one person suggested the NYT.com implement a volunteer pay system that allows people to give what they can. Side note: By the looks of it Drudge posted a link to the Decoder piece around 7pm, after which the last 200 comments or so are dominated by people proclaiming a certain amount of delight over the demise of the Obama-run liberal rag, or something similar.

The numbers are interesting nonetheless. Leaving aside the complications of implementing a pay system (and, as many commenters pointed out, whether a pay system would actually solve the problem) that’s a lot of people volunteering to pay. When you cut out the obvious Drudgers, the numbers are even more encouraging. Of course they are the hard core sect, who not only rely on the NYT.com but take the time to register a comment. However, as far as a sampling of the populations goes it has to be encouraging to the powers that be. Also, much quicker results than that survey they were apparently sending out to readers earlier this summer (also! a lot of suggestions regarding which op-eders they might consider cutting, I think MoDo and Friedman may lead the pack). Put up that pay wall, Mr. Keller!

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