Outlandish you say. Not at all, especially for an electronic edition. The average news paper is hardly worth more than a dime a day, the NYT might be worth a bit more but hardly more than a quarter.
This isn't really about editorial content but rather the reality that news is a 24 hour a day business, since the advent of cable TV and then the web. So one element here is that the NEWS in Newspaper is no longer important as by definition it is always old news. So if the papers of tomorrow seriously want to be in the news business they need to deliver the news 24 hours a day. That is not impossible but takes a total change in the mind set of a paper.
In many ways the news is not journalism. That may shock many but think about it, the news is about the events and activities that make up our days. Journalism, especially investigative journalism is another beast altogether. It is the search for truths, opinions and other elements of a story to inform the community in general. In other words news is really a passive thing where as journalism is a more engaging activity. In order to compete a "newspaper" needs to compete on both fronts to give people a reason to spend their time with the distribution.
Sadly I don't really think that newspapers in general get it yet. One of the primary reasons for their existence has vanished to more timely and diverse mediums. As the electronic forms gather an ability to cover local scenes and actually employ reporters the dead tree based businesses will slowly wither away. Think about a world where Google, Yahoo or Bing employed reporters to compete directly with the likes of the NYT. Or for that matter Apple starting up a news bureau to work in conjunction with that massive data center they are building. Mind you these organizations would not be hiring people to report the news (which they already to effectively baring Apple) but rather to engage in true journalism. I don't know about you guys but the papers just don't get it.
Spoken like someone who has never read a paper. Journalism, as it is done by good journalists in newspapers, is much more in depth than the sound bites and headlines one gets from CNN and the likes.
If you try to get all of your information from TV or the headlines you find online, you will be sorely uninformed or worse, misinformed.
Newspapers provide a depth and balance which is impossible given the time constraints of TV and radio.
Newspapers also allow the reader the opportunity to pause and consider what is being said, reread what doesn't sink in, and review the total article in a thoughtful manor.
This is to say nothing of the shear art of journalism. A well written article is a pleasure to read, as apposed to most of the trivial BS one gets from other sources.
If newspapers give up on the ability to pay good journalists to properly investigate and report, we're doomed as a society.
News isn't old just because you saw the headline 15 minutes ago. News evolves as more information becomes available. More information becomes available because journalists go digging for it.
It's true that it sounds like there is an element within the NYT that is fighting to retain an old and unsustainable business model. Fighting to keep print alive is bound to be fruitless in the long or medium term.
$30 per month will surely price them out of existence. However, they do need to maintain a price which will allow them to continue to support a large staff of trained and experienced journalists.