The New York Times, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire that includes the Wall Street Journal, The Times, the Sun and... er... MySpace, has begun taking steps to erect a paywall around the site that would mean that visitors would have to pony up cash to view the paper's contents.

Starting in early 2011, the paper will limit readers to just a few articles every month before they'll be asked to pay a fee to get unlimited access. It's not yet clear how much it'll cost, how many articles will be 'free' and what the response from the New York Times' substantial readership will be. Many analysts have expressed doubt that fickle readers won't just turn elsewhere for content.

Other papers in the Murdoch empire, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, already charge readers to access articles. The Financial Times gives users 10 free articles per month before demanding payment, and the Wall Street Journal makes certain editorial content only available to paid users. Neither paper has released in-depth figures on how the experiment is performing.

"It underscores the value of what we do — trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing", said Bill Keller, the executive editor of the paper. "And it gives us a second way to sustain that hard, expensive work, in addition to our healthy advertising revenue".

Would you pay to access the New York Times? Let us know your thoughts on the paper's plans in the comments.