Paying for Pundits

I’ve just learned that The New York Times is planning a subscription system for some of their newspaper content starting in September.

The bad news first: readers won’t be able to get their David Brooks or Paul Krugman fix without paying a subscription fee of $49.95 a year. Like Farhad Manjoo of Salon, I’d imagine this subscription may undercut the influence of the Times’ columnists, especially within the blogosphere (Kos has already promised not to link to Times writers after September).

But the good news is that the subscription will allow readers access to TimesPast, the newspaper’s extensive archives. I realize that most of this material is already available at many university libraries in one form or another and that the New York Times Link Generator already offers permanent links to many recent articles, but access to the archives should prove valuable for research purposes.

Like Frank Rich (quoted in the Salon article), I recognize that running a newspaper is an expensive business (somebody’s gotta pay for that hard-hitting war journalism), but I also know that on my budget, I’m not likely going to be able to afford to pay $50 just to read the columnists. Of course, if they start hiding the movie reviews, that’s a whole different story. Then I might be completely lost.

5 Comments »

  1. Nadine Said,

    May 17, 2005 @ 5:35 pm

    Wow, hadn’t heard about that yet. As a journalism student, my heart just dropped.

  2. Dylan Said,

    May 18, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    I just don’t get what the Times feels like they are going to get out of this. Do they really think that people will pay that kind of money just to read their editorials?

    And it’s short-sighted, because they’ve effectively removed themselves from the most engaged and vibrant audience: The blogosphere.

  3. Chuck Said,

    May 18, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    In the long run, I think it is a bad idea PR-wise, but maybe not financially. My understanding is that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has had some success with its premium access for sports editorials and other premium content (though, significantly *not* their editorial page), so maybe it is worth it in terms of revenue. I still read the free articles in the AJC & give them some traffic for their ads.

    At some point, I may subscribe simply to have free access to their archives at home, but in terms of public audience, I think they stand to lose a lot. If Kos holds true to his promise not to link to the Times after September, then that’s a potential loss of thousands of readers.

  4. Francois Lachance Said,

    May 19, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

    Let ‘em hide the movie reviews. Some of their readers might become chutry experiement regulars :)

  5. Chuck Said,

    May 19, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

    Sure, I’ll take all the readers I can get. I just want to be able to criticize their movie reviews in a public space….

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