NYTimes finally examines The End of Free now that AOL is charging

Free Content Online? Publishers Are Divided

Sales of the online diet service WeightWatchers.com, for example, are at a pace of $57 million a year. The site, which charges $14.95 a month, publishes one new recipe a week. But most of the site’s use is for its message boards and an online diary that keeps track of eating according to the Weight Watchers program.

“Most of the pure content we have is free,” said Sharon Fordham, the site’s chief executive. “What people will pay for is the software that leverages what the internet is uniquely capable of.”

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