The New York Times' Paywall Costly to the Environment

The New York Times is instituting a paywall for their content.  It is not news that journalism is having difficulty profiting in the modern online media world.  Embracing the moment, The New York Times is available online and via apps for a variety of devices including iPad and iPhone.*

The New York Times is charging more for digital access than for a print subscription.  The print subscription, of course, includes home delivery.  The print subscription also includes digital access that could cost as much as $455 per year (USD).** John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes:

“The New York Times’s legacy business is the printed newspaper. They charge less for a print subscription than an all-inclusive digital subscription, despite the fact that all print subscriptions include an all-inclusive digital subscription. This makes no sense. You pay less but get something that intuitively bears a significant real cost: hundreds of pounds of printed newspaper delivered to your home throughout the year. The pricing steers people toward the legacy business.”

Think for a moment about the energy and emissions of just the paper.  Hopefully there is some recycled content but some of the paper begins as a tree.  Bullet points include the logging operation, doubtful they are using hand saws and draft animals, the production of the paper at a mill, the transportation of the paper to the press, and the transportation of the paper from the press to your doorstep.  If you still have a neighborhood kid throwing the daily edition from a bicycle please let us know.

As broken as this is, it is a simplified example of how the true cost of energy is passed through for the environment and the global public to pay.  The potential cost savings on an individual level may exceed $200 annually by receiving home delivery even if only the digital subscription is wanted and used.**  The extra cost, the externalities, are left for the globe to pay.  The same is true with the production of energy via coal and other carbon fuels.  When this carbon is released it affects the global environment and the cost is paid by everyone.

Maybe the green thing is to get your news elsewhere until The New York Times corrects its course.  The environment and economics can work together but The New York Times is putting you on the frontline deciding between the environment or your personal finances.  Please don’t ask everybody to subsidize your subscription.

*For more information on how green Apple is or isn’t please read “HP, Apple, And Dell: Which Has The Most Green To Tell?”

** The New York Times' Subscription Options:

Photo Credit: Ivy Dawned