The Times prepares for paywall launch

Rupert Murdoch's quest for further riches has, this week, seen the launch of the new Times and Sunday Times websites, which Murdoch's company News International is planning to hide away behind a paywall.

For £1 a day, or £2 a week, readers will be able to browse the full range of the site's content. These new platforms are stripped down versions of the current Times Online site and, according to the Times assistant editor Tom Whitwell contain "a lot fewer stories".

So basically what you're getting for your money is a smaller version of what you get already for free. Hmm.

The idea behind the slimming down is to give Times readers a more concentrated and better quality form of journalism. "What we are trying to say is we are not going to show you all the news, [like] going to Google News and seeing 4000 articles, we are going to give our take", Whitwell said.

Talking of Google News, don't expect to see articles from The Times' sites popping up on there for much longer. The paywall approach that News International is taking is an "all or nothing" one, which means that stories will only appear in headline form after appearing on the Times homepage. Even then they won't be all that prominent as Google's engines depend on access to meta-data to rank its results.

The sites do look and navigate pretty well. The design is very basic, it's almost like an actual newspaper on your screen. The Sunday Times site is a lot more media driven, it has plenty of picture galleries and a video carousel as well. It's pretty dynamic and quite a bit different from The Times site and other online newspapers.

For now, you can sign up to the sites for free and see if you think they justify a payment. The trial period is going to last a few weeks before the paywall goes up some time in June. A word of advice though, be sure to check out free online newspapers like The Guardian and The Telegraph first, where there is masses of brilliant content at no cost.

Will Murdoch's plan pay off, or is he an old media mogul who has lost touch with the digital audience? Are you willing to pay a cost for a better quality of journalism? Will it even be any better than what's currently on offer? Let us know your thoughts on what's sure to be a hot topic over the next few months.