NY Times App to Charge $6 a Mo. for Opinion Pieces, Will Run Paid Ads as Op Eds

The New York Times is about to launch "NYT Opinion," a new subscription smart phone app that will see customers paying $6 a month to receive access to the Times' opinion editorials. But the paper has also admitted that some of those editorials will be written by companies as paid advertisements.

Looking for new ways to grab the mobile and Internet-based market, the paper is poised to add "NYT Opinion," to its other iPhone app, "NYT Now." And by Fall the Times plans to launch a cooking app, as well.

Trade magazine Ad Age sat down to speak with Denise Warren, The Times' Executive Vice President of the paper's digital products group, to see what the new app was all about.

Warren claimed that the editors feel that people are hungry for the Old Gray Lady's viewpoint. Warren imagines that, "Our opinion franchise is one of the most beloved and valued parts of what we do each and every day."

With its "Op-Talk" feature, the new app will also grab op eds from outside the paper and present those to reader's, as well. Warren felt it was a "service" to her readers for her staff to pick and choose what opinions were worthy for readers to see.

"We think the Op-Talk stream, for example, is something that's very valuable for folks. They don't have to sift through all the opinions out there; The New York Times is doing the work for you. We think it's a real service," she said.

So, the Times feels it is more suited to "sift through all the opinions out there" for you, dear readers. You don't have to do any hard thinking. Just let the Times give you the correct views.

But the most interesting revelation about what "NYT Opinion" would do came at the very end of the Ad Age interview. 

"Newspapers opinion sections are in many ways the cradle of native advertising, where companies and organizations would pay to run advertorials espousing their views," the Ad Age reporter said. "Will the NYT Opinion app include Paid Posts, the Times' version of native ads?"

Warren's interesting, if short, reply: "Yes, NYT Opinion will feature paid posts and Shell is our launch sponsor."

So, an oil company will help the truth tellers at The New York Times launch its op ed app? Will there be disclosure about just how much Shell Oil is paying for this privilege? Will readers be told just how much influence that oil money will buy in the new "NYT Opinion" app?

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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