Tarry for the Nonce

September 19, 2005

Oh, Joyous Rapture

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 5:00 pm

The New York Times has made a glorious business decision:

The marquee columnists for The New York Times’ Op-Ed page — including Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich — generate lots of interest and discussion online. Now, the paper is hoping they’ll also generate something else: cash.

Beginning Monday, the Times will begin charging $49.95 a year to people who don’t get the paper delivered at home for access to those writers as well as other columnists for the Times’ business, metro and sports sections . . .

Eliot Pierce, who oversees the TimesSelect project at the Times’ Web site, said the paper is hoping to sign up enough users and home delivery subscribers to the new program so that the Op-Ed columnists “remain part of the dialogue” . . .

Glenn Reynolds, who runs a popular blog called Instapundit.com, said he was “completely mystified” by the Times’ plans to start charging non-subscribers for access to its Op-Ed columnists.

“It seems to me that it’s a fairly narrow market that’s going to pay for the privilege of reading columns by Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman and such,” said Reynolds, who is a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

I note with glee that the Daily Kos is disappointed. As one blogger puts it:

Forget them. Those writers aren’t that good . . .

Most people, like me, have become accustomed to getting their news for free. And particularly at a time when I’m paying about $30 more a week in gas than I was a month ago, I’m not going to shell out another 4 bucks a month to read the stinkin’ New York Times columnists . . .

There are many good writers out there at other newspapers and on blogs who are giving it away. Since I’ve discovered blogs, I’ve spent less time at the Times. Now, I’ll likely spend none at all.

Perhaps it is the beginning of the end of Maureen Dodd’s career. Or – even better – Paul Krugman! Oh, the possibilities! One can only hope.



  1. A bunch of my debate friends went nuts over this too, though I think it’s fair to note that both the Wall Street Journal and the Economist have both restricted most of their online content, so for the Times to follow suit isn’t much of a surprise.

    Personally, I’m actually a print subscriber because I think the New York Times is one of the few newspapers in the world actually worth reading cover to cover every single day.

    Comment by Matt — September 20, 2005 @ 3:26 pm

  2. I think the difference is that The Economist and the WSJ restrict their news content, which is an obvious value-add that people would be expected to pay for.

    On the other hand, like those of other papers, the Times’ Opinion section is just so much blather, not altogether different from the blather you are currently reading. By locking people out of its Opinion section, the Times is essentially taking its columnists out of the national debate, thereby prompting such mirth from Laura. It’s an odd decision, though it does put lie to the idea that the Times would rather influence public opinion than make money. My guess is that with this plan, they will do neither.

    Comment by Toly — September 20, 2005 @ 3:38 pm

  3. Actually, if you subscribe to the Economist, you get access to the online stuff for free. And they better give it for free….its one expensive weekly…….

    Times would rather influence public opinion than make money

    Whatever happened to ADVERTISERS and AD REVENUE generating enough CASHFLOW for the newspapers so they don’t have to charge an arm, a leg, and a foot for their papers?! Hmm, makes one wonder what’s really going on with those evil movie theater cartels, with their Mt. Dew and car commercials………

    Comment by Andrew P. — September 21, 2005 @ 3:27 am

  4. The Economist is also an international publication, meaning that they still have somewhat higher structural costs in terms of rolling out their publication. Of course, that’s why you get it – for the international and well-considered perspective. Yes, I’m a print subscriber there. (Actually, it’s nice to know that other people here actually read intelligent things…)

    BTW, I think the NYT probably has the best opinion section in the country right now. Out here, the L.A. Times is comparatively garbage (although certainly much better since the Tribune bought them out) and while I think that Maureen Dowd definitely is a Bush-hater (whatever, get over it), I think Thomas Friedman is probably one of the best in the business. Once you acknowledge that it’s generally a liberal publication, and balance out your reading, it’s still a worthwhile use of your time.

    All in all, like the gradual rise in internet taxation, we’re just in the midst of a change in their business model, that’s all.

    Comment by Matt — September 21, 2005 @ 12:39 pm

  5. Actually, international or not, I believe magazines make most of their money from advertising, not subscription revenues. The subscriptions are mostly there to filter out people who are not truly interested in the magazine, but just like getting something “for free.”

    Personally, my readings of The Economist happen while taking breaks at Barnes & Noble. 🙂

    Comment by Toly — September 21, 2005 @ 8:33 pm

  6. You work at Barnes and Noble?

    BTW, B&N for me was always the only place in town that sold 2600 magazine, but that was, you know, a back in the day sort of thing. Nowadays I pick it up to realize how I’m an old cod and how it used to be so cool.

    Comment by Matt — September 23, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

  7. HAHAHA…2600… wow, you are old ;o)

    I bet you used to read it before it was kewl & l33t.

    Back in the phreaking days.

    Oh wait, nm…I’m talking BEFORE B&N!

    Comment by Andrew P. — September 23, 2005 @ 6:12 pm

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