Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tearing Down a Wall

The New York Post is reporting that the New York Times will be eliminating the TimesSelect pay to read feature that blocked off the op-ed section and the archives from readers.
The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.
After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.


In July, The Post reported that insiders were lobbying to shut down the service. After two years, however, the move to do away with TimesSelect may have more to do with growth than grumbling inside the paper.

The number of Web-only subscribers who pay $7.95 a month or $49.95 a year fell to just over 221,000 in June, down from more than 224,000 in April.
The whole idea of paying to read the op-ed page made no sense. Everyone has an opinion, and some online editorialists were superior to those that the Times hid behind the pay to read scheme. It was a plan doomed to fail.

If the Times truly wanted to monetize their offerings, forcing people to pay for opinions wasn't the way to do it.

If they are still in the mood to charge readers for their various services, here's a couple of options - continue to require payment for access to the archives or charge readers online for pre-paper publication (articles that appear before they are printed in the paper edition would only have an abstract viewable until the next paper edition with that article is published unless you subscribe).

But if Pinch wants the company to lose money, shed reporters and staff, that's his business. It's his money.

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