New Times and Sunday Times websites arrive

Will you pay for access to the new Times and Sunday Times sites as of next month?

The Times and The Sunday Times have unveiled their cleanly-designed, new-look websites this week, with News International's controversial paywall plans soon to follow.

The newspaper publisher's paywall experiment will come into effect for both new sites later next month, limiting the access to paying users.

Focused news strategy

The Times website is focusing on fewer, more in-depth stories and the Sunday Times website is styled much more like a magazine, with lots of large photos and multimedia content.

For now, the company is offering free access to the sites as a taster for "about four weeks" after which it is still anybody's guess how well the paywall experiment will do.

One thing is for sure, every other magazine and newspaper publisher is watching the public's reaction to the pay-for-access newspaper sites very closely.

One notable change to both sites is that anonymous comments have been cut. You can only comment on stories now under your own name.

All or nothing approach

The Times assistant editor, Tom Whitwell, says that the move is an "all or nothing" approach.

"Clarity was something that was very important to the project… [if] we ask people to pay we have to be very clear what they are getting.

"What we are trying to say is we are not going to show you all the news, [like] going to Google News and seeing 4,000 articles, we are going to give our take," Whitwell added.

The Times executive editor, Daniel Finkelstein, said of the new websites and paywall strategy: "This is a step forward in the way newspapers project themselves online," he said, adding that the company's journalists had been encouraged to change the way they view the web.

"There will be a period we are outliers on this. Everyone can give away free news but no one can give away the Times. Both of us [Times and Sunday Times] can reflect our values. The experience is like a newspaper but better. We are not selling them [readers and users] news, we are selling them the Times and Sunday Times."

What do you think? Will you pay for access to the new Times and Sunday Times sites as of next month?

Via The Guardian