Friday, May 20, 2005

A Really Bad Idea

As of September, access to New York Times Op-Ed content will be subscription only. To quote the official press release:

While most of the news, features and multi-media on will remain free and available to users, the work of Op-Ed columnists and some of the best known voices from the news side of The Times and The International Herald Tribune (IHT) will be available only to TimesSelect subscribers beginning in September. Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive TimesSelect as part of their benefits. TimesSelect will be priced at $49.95 for an annual subscription.

There have been rumblings for a while that the Times would adopt some kind of subscription model patterned after that of the Wall Street Journal. I do give them credit for not going that far. Still, this idea is, to quote the cliche, penny wise and pound foolish. Whatever short-term financial gains will accrue from the subscription model will be more than offset by the Times Op-Ed page's resulting loss of influence. Many bloggers and others, especially those of us on the right side of the political spectrum, who refuse to pay $49.95 will simply stop linking to and discussing Times Op-Ed pieces. Personally, while I respect the work of David Brooks, Tom Friedman, and now John Tierney, there is no way on this earth that I would pay money for the "privilege" of reading Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd. Increasingly, the Times Op-Ed section will do little more than preach to the urban liberal choir.


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