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The NYT goes cash for comment

May 21st, 2005

ViaTimothy Noah at Slate, I learn that the NYT is going to start charging for access to its opinion columns. It’s not clear whether, and how, bloggers will be exempted from this – the NYT provides blog access to the archives (otherwise pay-per-view) through its RSS feeds

Speaking as a reader, I wouldn’t want to pay for the NYT Op-Ed page. The Editorials are worthy, but not very exciting. Of the columnists, only Krugman is consistently excellent, and most of his columns consist of necessary repetition of important truths well-informed readers are aware of, but most commentators are unwilling to harp on for fear of being called “shrill”. Kristof, like the little girl in the rhyme, is very, very good when he’s good, but that’s not always. And Herbert is steadily good, if sometimes overly earnest. After that, there’s a long tail, with columns more often useful for mockery than for endorsement.

As a blogger, there’s no point in paying for something if you can’t link to it. That’s why the WSJ is so thoroughly marginalised in the blog world. So unless the NYT finds a way around this, they’ll be cutting themselves off from the most active part of the public debate, and presumably missing out on quite a few potential readers.

  1. May 21st, 2005 at 20:50 | #1

    “As a blogger, there’s no point in paying for something if you can’t link to it.”

    I subscribe to a number of sources I can’t link to, you know, to stay informed.

  2. May 22nd, 2005 at 06:39 | #2

    J.F. Beck, the internet is based on fluidity and inter-connectedness. Why link to something that only a few can read anyway? Usability studies have shown continually in relation to the web, that if you make it even slightly inconvenient for someone to read or use your website, then people click on to the next website.

    As an example, I have forgotten my SMH username and password, I cant be buggered making a new one, so other than having a quick peek at the cartoons, I dont really care at the moment. The ABC news isnt walled off, and I use the Au bloggoffisphere for commentary. Laziness on my part? or inconvenience on SMH’s part? Either way, the SMH is not getting my browser clicks.

    We are now in a world of endless content. If the NYT, or any other media outlet, is forcing artificial scarcity, people will find other places to link to, that support their arguments. The NYTs is shooting itself in the foot here.

  3. anne
    May 22nd, 2005 at 07:12 | #3

    The New York Times is a treasure, as long as all besides the columns can be read all will be well, though I subscribe and the site will be free to subscribers.

  4. jquiggin
    May 22nd, 2005 at 07:46 | #4

    JF Beck, reread the post, especially the second para.

  5. May 22nd, 2005 at 12:56 | #5

    Well, if they’re going to charge, they shouldn’t be wimps about it. Each op-eder should be made to have his/her own column pay – that’s sure to finish off Thomas Friedman. Silver linings.

  6. May 23rd, 2005 at 16:30 | #6

    Cory Doctorow has some comments on the issue at Boing Boing. Summary: it is the wrong move for newspapers.

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