The Times, the London newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., is offering free tickets to Toy Story 3 or the chance of a weekend at the Grosvenor Hotel in Dorset to persuade readers to pay for news online.

Photo credit: World Economic Forum (Creative Commons)

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The newspaper this week began closing down its free website and will charge for access, mirroring a long-standing practice at the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times Co. plans to do the same next year. Both concede the step will mean fewer readers. A drop in advertising revenue is forcing them to seek other, more steady, sources of income.

“We don’t expect or require that all the people who do now will still look at it,” said Daniel Finkelstein, executive editor of the Times in London whose online fee will be 2 pounds ($2.89) a week. “What’s left is still a vast market.”

Among the first general newspapers seeking to charge for online content, the Times and the New York daily are betting that a smaller number of committed, paying online readers may allow them to extract subscription fees and bigger advertising sales. Print ads in the U.S. last year slid 29 percent to about $24.8 billion, the lowest since 1984. With online ad sales holding up better, newspapers want to capture a bigger piece of that pie, even as they lose some readers.

Read More: By Matthew Campbell, WSJ

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Photo credit: World Economic Forum (Creative Commons)

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