It won't work. They already know this - they've tried it before. Stupidity is doing the same thing you did before and expecting different results. "This time it's different!" Yes, it is. Much more competition, the Great Recession, high unemployment. 3 more reasons to fail. The industry needs massive consolidation - like maybe 90% of the print papers folding.
Actually, I think the real rule is that stupidity is trying the same thing you did before in the same circumstances and expecting different results. But the circumstances are not the same, as you indicate. Now it's true the outcome may not be different, but it's not true that it's obvious that the outcome will not be different.
What's ironic and sad about the fact that you cite the recession is that one reason there's a recession is a lack of jobs. And the lack of jobs is created by a lack of money to hire people, including at the New York Times. They are not wanting to charge because they want to stick it to you, they want to survive and to keep people employed.
So if you think the recession matters--and you must, since you cited it as relevant here--then you should buy a subscription. And tell your friends to. And soon if everyone does, it may be seen as a valid business model.
Imagine that--paying for content. I know it sounds quaint, but think of the implications: The actual producers of content would be benefiting for the content they actually produced. Why on Earth would you be smugly suggesting it was somehow better for people to be feebly rewarded by advertising dollars, which (a) doesn't reward the content producers really, (b) does reward the advertisers when they didn't do anything except pay feeble amounts that don't buy a cup of coffee for most content producers, and (c) drags the entire industry off in search of content that advertisers like instead of in search of content that end-users want.
Forget the pay scheme. I, the end user, want to read stuff because it's good to read, not because someone can find a way to make a buck on accessories for it. I don't want people preferring to write about the planet Saturn rather than the planet Jupiter because there's a car named Saturn that might put up its ads next to remarks about the planet Saturn. I want people to write good stuff about any topic they want and then to get paid in proportion to their goodness. Like used to happen. Quaint? I think not. More like lost rationality.
Yes, it might not work. But like getting a decent health care system, I'd rather see them fail trying than give up because it's a lost cause. Don't be defeatist, be encouraging.
One final point: These are people among the most trusted in the world to report on politics. If they fold
because you insist they have old-fashioned ways and should yield to the "advertising" model of free content,
the problem is that we may soon find that advertisers are trying to sway them away from things that good
reporters need to cover. What then? The news industry suffered a serious blow in the late 60's or maybe early
70's, don't quite recall, when news went commercial and had to show a profit. That's a tough thing. But at
least let them show a profit on their actual news, don't make them have to contort news content to be profitable
on some other basis. If not for them, do it for us: the citizens. When things go wrong (oops, they have: economy, health, climate change, wars, torture, ...) it may turn out to matter.
And news is not just any industry. I'm actually not sure most industries are served by lack of variety, but certainly the news industry is not. So your admonition that a leading free-thinker in news should "consolidate" seems ... well, short-sighted.