Not surprisingly, ad revenue is down 8.1% for the New York Times in the first quarter. What is surprising, however, is that the Times is reporting an increase in circulation revenue of 9.7%. According to Forbes, the Times beat first quarter estimates by 300%, earning 8 cents a share. Refinements in the Times’s digital subscriptions model, specifically, the decrease in free articles from 20 to 10, have improved subscription conversion rates. Like The Economist, the Times is proving that conventional circulation systems, if effectively replicated in a digital space, can drive big revenue. I stand corrected; apparently the paywall is working.