I noticed this morning The Chicago Tribune had a flag that said 'payment gateway has been suspended for this article'...so i looked farther.
NYT is now displaying this message:
Log in or create an account for
free access to up-to-date information
and expert guidance on coronavirus.
No subscription required.
As much as I'd like to believe this is altruistic - my guess is these paid sites were losing visitors. Many times recently I've clicked on a top search result, saw the 'must subscribe' and clicked off and moved on to a 'free' site for news.
I did read the Chicago Tribune article and a couple others there - I will not give my info to the NYT any more than I will pay to read their stories.
Wonder if this will change how google views the 'paid only' sites when it comes to ranking in the future.