Finally, a welcome extinction – TimesSelect

Posted on September 20, 2007

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As of September 19, the New York Times’ subscription service for so-called premium content has been shut down, opening up free access to the NYTimes’ opinion and news commentators, online-only exclusives, and access to the archives back to 1987, content that had been subscription only since 2005. And the reason that the NYTimes is voluntarily ending a subscription service that earned them about $10 million per year?

Since we launched TimesSelect in 2005, the online landscape has altered significantly. Readers increasingly find news through search, as well as through social networks, blogs and other online sources. In light of this shift, we believe offering unfettered access to New York Times reporting and analysis best serves the interest of our readers, our brand and the long-term vitality of our journalism.
(Source: A Letter to Readers About TimesSelect, by Vivian Schiller, Senior Vice President & General Manager, NYTimes.com)

Well, that and the fact that NYTimes.com believe that they’ll make back more in advertising revenues by building their brand than the measly $10 million per year.

Frankly, I actually hope they’re right. When the NYTimes announced TimesSelect in 2005, I went hunting for alternative editorial voices, because I was no longer going to be able to read Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich (all of whom I generally like), David Brooks (who I generally don’t), and Nicholas D. Kristof (who I always find interesting, regardless of whether I agree or not). Because of my experience listening to David Brooks and E.J. Dionne discussing political issues on NPR, I started with the Washington Post opinion crew, and after trying a couple of others as well (namely the LA Times and Boston Herald), I stuck with the Post. But I still missed reading Krugman’s economic analyses, and when I wanted to blog on Friedman’s columns in The Denver Post, I always had to find a secondary source to link to, because his stuff was behind the TimesSelect firewall.

But even if the NYTimes is wrong, there’s no turning back, at least not for me. I still enjoy reading Krugman et al, and I’ll add the Times opinion page to my daily reading instead of replacing the Post’s page with the Times’ page. But it’ll be nice to be able to read everything at the NYTimes again.

With a little luck, Rupert Murdoch will follow through on his threat and drop the subscription-only Wall Street Journal online news….

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