I asked John Robinson how widespread the changes to the N&R website noted here yesterday will be.
He wrote me a thoughtful email, which he then posted to his own blog.
A key excerpt:
We're going to try to create a news site, rather than a newspaper site. That means that the website will emphasize breaking news, "commodity" news, news that people need to know as soon as possible, interactivity, and the stuff that historically draws traffic — stories about crime, consumer news, dining and retail news, photo slideshows, etc. Information that is exclusive to the newspaper — enterprise and feature stories, for instance — will not be on the site. That's a generality. We have all kinds of exceptions that are still under consideration and discussion. So, if you write about this, my request is that you emphasize that this is all very much a work in progress...
...don't confuse it with a paywall because it's not close to what that terminology commonly refers to.
So they're talking about taking a meaningful chunk of their original content off the website, and putting it online only in unlinkable and, to this reader at least, incredibly unfriendly format. Imagine trying to navigate an entire newspaper in PDF form, and you'll get a rough idea; if the medium is the message, this medium says "go away."
Whether it also says, "go read the print edition" is the question. There may be some value as well in registrations for the "e-edition," but it's hard to imagine many people using this clunky interface.
Print circulation still drives a lot of ad revenue, and rethinking the website makes a lot of sense, but the technology element alone makes this look like a doomed rearguard attack on the free-content problem.
Standard disclaimer: I contribute a column to the N&R but have never been an employee; I'm a paid subscriber to the print edition.