Harkening back to the days when journalism was a public service, The New York Times and The The Wall Street Journal have placed a crack in their firewall to give readers free access to vital information about Hurricane Sandy—the “Frankenstorm” currently spreading across the East Coast.
The NYT lifted the paywall for hurricane coverage on Sunday evening, with a note on the NYT website indicating that “the Times is providing free unlimited access to storm coverage on nytimes.com and its mobile apps.” Previously, the NYT provided free access during Hurricane Irene in 2011. The Wall Street Journal website also let readers know that he WSJ Web site informed readers that “The Wall Street Journal Web site is free to all visitors today.” The firewall break was across all content on Monday.
The media companies have created an interesting precedent. What if all “news” was free, and only editorial and feature content were behind the paywall?