New York Times Traffic Down 24 Percent From Paywall; Erik Wemple to Washington Post

Lately, the New York Times has lost a few of its star writers including legendary critic and columnist Frank Rich and foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins, along with a handful of others, and although people change jobs all the time and for a variety of reasons, the timing was enough to make us wonder, "Will the New York Times Paywall Be a 'Wasteland' for Writers?" April was the first full month in which the newspaper's website wasn't free and while "wasteland" may be a little harsh, readership is indeed down. In our daily media column Press Clips we'll tell you how much and what it means, in addition to news about Washington, D.C., stalwart Erik Wemple's new job and a small snafu at Forbes.

Tall Wall: Traffic to NYTimes.com is at a 12-month low, reports Nat Ives at Ad Age, dropping from a 13 percent share for U.S. newspapers in March to 10.6 in April, with the paywall going into effect on March 28. Overall, that's a 24 percent drop in pageviews, with other newspapers falling only 7 percent.

According to Poynter, news sites Yahoo!, USA Today, ABC News, and Advance saw a gain in unique visits, while every other top-tier website saw a drop, including AOL News, the Times, and the Huffington Post.

The Times isn't worried yet!

When you look at these numbers at Yahoo News and MSNBC, that suggests that there was a dip in news. Despite that, and given that this is the first month where you can see the traffic patterns post-digital subscription launch, these are actually better number than our internal projections.

Despite the significance of the news, which can't be discounted, we retained our ranking in terms of unique users, page views, and engagement, and that's important.

May will doubtlessly be buoyed by Osama bin Laden news, which fortunately for Times' traffic happened right at the beginning of the month, when readers had not yet used their 20 allotted stories, though this chart indicates that Yahoo and MSNBC will see the biggest Bin Laden bumps.

Weekend Update: Meanwhile, the Times is planning a reinvention of their "Week in Review" section, which could even see a name-change. HuffPo reports that "the Times is striving to create a Sunday section that's seen as looking forward, not backward," but news that "Maureen Dowd will soon have the opportunity to write long-form pieces" isn't exactly our idea of progress.

Upwards: Erik Wemple, who left the Washington City Paper amid ownership changes has now left the hyperlocal start-up TBD during another business-side shake-up, and will head to the Washington Post, which he covered with spirit as a City Paper media reporter. At the Post he will blog on politics and media, Politico reports. Luckily for readers, he'll get to be "opinionated."

Forbes Flub: The Daily's gossip section says that an email sent to the wrong people alerted a bunch of Forbes.com bloggers just who's writing for free and who's getting paid. "Does that mean we are all supposed to be paid for our Forbes blogs?" one accidental recipient asked. No, duh -- what kind of business does he think this is?

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]


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